The heart doesn’t lie… at least as far as compassion and miracles are concerned. The heart may and often does steer us in the wrong direction with the boy-girl, girl-girl, boy-boy relationships. However, it is the former function of the heart that intrigues this writer more today…
In 2012, it seems that random acts of kindness are sprinkled far too lightly these days. Perhaps an isolated tragedy strikes and as such, as a family, neighborhood or a nation we “go numb” and then… spring to action with some outreach, outpouring of whatever we can provide. But it is the sustained, day in, day out, do what needs to be done… that is the stuff of heroes- “sheroes.”
Ladyjustice was able to bear witness to this recently. This dedication, this love, this perseverance, no matter what the cost, is something that few are prepared for nor is it asked for… Being a caregiver is very underrated and misunderstood… just as the “unskilled” professional of personal care attendants (PCA’s) who typically work with those having severe disabilities of every type.
According to payscale.com, as of 9-17-2012, your average hourly wage for a PCA varies according to geographic location. Their duties consist of assistance with transfers, toileting, bathing, dressing, feeding, meal preparation, medication administration, shopping, house cleaning…and perhaps other independent living skills such as bill paying and helping with mail.
Payscale.com Data- Hourly Wage Range: $7.95 to $14.23;
PCA Annual Salary Range -$16,518 to $30,538.
Highest Hourly Rates by City-
1) Las Vegas, Nevada;
2) Houston, Texas;
3) Minneapolis, Minnesota;
4) St. Paul, Minnesota
Census Bureau Findings: Poverty Rate Holds at Increased Levels:
Real median household income for 2011 declined 1.5% compared to 2010;
The 2011 official poverty rate was 15% of the total population;
Definition: Families in poverty- Equals two adults; two children, with an annual income of $22,811. This definition has remained unchanged for the past three years…
The number of people in poverty – essentially unchanged since 2010 at 46.2 million.
The percentage of people without health insurance decreased slightly from 50million in 2010 to 48.6 million in 2011. All groups analyzed showed higher uninsured rates since 1999.
Selected Statistics From: Doc Bonn: Are You a Family Caregiver?
- Ø Nearly 25 percent of American families or 66 million serve as unpaid caregivers to those in need -whether biologically related or otherwise;
- Ø ***Such caregivers services “on the open market,” if paid by taxpayers would be valued at $375 billion per year;
- Ø Caregivers spend an average of 20 hours per week on caregiving—additional time is needed when the care recipient has more than one disability.[Ladyjustice- Subjectively, this would appear to be a low estimate]
- Ø The physical demands of caring for a physically disabled or chronically ill person, combined with the potential for caregiver depression can increase the risk of physical illness for caretakers.
- Ø One-third of all caregivers (Majority being women) describe their http://docbonn.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/doc-bonn-asks-are-you-a-family-caregiver-there-is-help-for-you/own health as “fair to poor.” Caregivers often worry that they will not live longer than the person they care for.
Back to “Reflections of the Heart”
So… What can we say, what can we take away from the “facts of the matter?” Ladyjustice knows from having chosen former professions in the human-social services arena, that they are badly needed, but yet extremely undervalued and financially undercompensated by society in general.
It follows that the “undervaluation” extends to seemingly all “disposable populations” – the disabled, the frail elderly, the incarcerated and their offspring etc. This is the way it has been… for centuries.
What can be said for the caretakers who serve from the heart with a strong sense of moral obligation? There is an inner determination. However, there is no roadmap to guide them, as each sick and/or disabled person has a unique background, personality and set of ideas that should be respected…as long as those beliefs do not infringe on others and are made with competence and thoughtfulness …. And not meant to endanger.
As for the caretaker… many new lessons are learned along the journey. It is hard, hard work of mind, body and spirit…and not for the faint of heart… that is for sure! Each day, each hour, each minute is different such that there is no time for relaxation. You are in perpetual motion in a “high state of alert,” ever vigilant. There are “snapshots” of temporary reprieve, times of laughter, hugs and positive thinking. But… it’s back to the business of duty of the heart… always.
Ladyjustice will leave you with a sincere thanks to all of the selfless caregivers…whose struggle is not often recognized. I see you… I appreciate you… I love your generosity of heart!
Let me close with this Swedish proverb, a Caregiver motivational quote:
“Love me when I least deserve it, because that’s when I need it most.”
- Home Alone: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care (hmprg.typepad.com)
- The Second Ring, the Disenfranchised…Who Are Taking Care of Other Family and the Caregivers? (donnagore.com)
- Report: Almost Half of Family Caregivers Perform Medical Tasks (caregiving.com)
- Young caregivers put life on hold (cnn.com)
- Caregiver Burnout: Managing the Challenges of Caregiving (prweb.com)