Caregivers and Mental Health Challenges During Thanksgiving
When Thanksgiving arrives during November, many people suffer from heightened feelings of loneliness and mental health challenges related to financial stress and fraught family dynamics.
What should be a celebratory occasion can feel like anything but a happy event for some caregivers. It shines the spotlight on caregivers and what we can do to support them further during this time of the year. Family First offers a holistic solution to help working Caregivers manage their work-life balance and help them to deal with the mental challenges that can come with caring for a loved family member.
Types of Mental Illness and its Impact on Caregivers
Caregivers are commonly vulnerable to various mental health conditions due to the pressures and emotional distress of looking after a loved one who may be suffering from illnesses such as dementia or cancer or recovering from the effects of a stroke or heart attack. Stress can reach a breaking point during the Thanksgiving period. The statistics below demonstrate this issue.
Statistics related to the general population show that Thanksgiving is a more stressful period for many people. According to the American Psychological Association, 38% of those surveyed indicated that their stress levels increased during the holidays. Of that same group, only 8% said that feelings of anxiety decreased at Thanksgiving time.
For caregivers who are already stressed, adding Thanksgiving pressures to their caregiving situation and career can cause further strain. According to FCA 42% of caregivers surveyed said managing their own stress was a concern. It was the joint most reported worry for caregivers alongside keeping their loved one safe (also 42%).
Thanksgiving can be complicated. Togetherness is encouraged during this season, yet it can occasionally result in forced family gatherings that highlight our differences.
Leading up to Thanksgiving, family dynamics can cause anxiety before, during, and after the event. Diana Butler Bass, who holds a Ph.D. in religious studies from Duke University and is the author of 10 books on American religion and culture, has coined the term: American Thanksgiving Anxiety. In this article with CNN, she discusses how family political divisions may be an issue that causes anxiety and a fear of conflict during the holidays.
Simply thinking about the added pressure of caring for a loved one alongside preparing and celebrating Thanksgiving might be enough to cause increased anxiety.
According to a 2014 survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 64% of people with mental illness report holidays make their conditions worse. Approximately 755 respondents reported that the holidays contribute to feeling sad or dissatisfied.
57% of caregivers report experiencing clinically significant stress, anxiety, or depression [Blue Cross Blue Shield. The impact of caregiving on mental health. September 9, 2020] there is likely to be an overlap where some caregivers suffering from depression find their condition further impacted around Thanksgiving.
The holidays put a lot of pressure on people to celebrate in particular ways, to spend more money than they can afford, and to appear happy even when they are not.
The current economic client adds further stress to Thanksgiving in 2022. According to data from digital wealth management company Personal Capital, for those who do plan to celebrate Thanksgiving, 34% imagine a smaller dinner menu for this year compared to last, and 45% overall felt financial stress when considering Thanksgiving 2022. The report also finds higher food costs as an added stressor alongside inflation and the risk of job insecurity.
The financial impacts of the holidays can affect those providing care. Finances can be a source of stress for caregivers at regular times. For example, 50% of working caregivers seek an additional job; 33% seek jobs to cover caregiving costs; 47% of caregivers have an annual household income of less than $50,000, with a median income of $54,700.
Caregivers unable to join family events or travel to Thanksgiving gatherings due to their caregiver responsibilities might feel lonely. Spending Thanksgiving feeling alone can be upsetting. It also may be a time to reflect and overthink things. This article from Psychology Today highlights why Thanksgiving Is the Loneliest Holiday.
Caregivers are prone to feelings of isolation and loneliness caused by a withdrawal from their previous routines, lifestyles, and social activities to focus on their family member who needs care.
A study by NCBI states:
“Informal (i.e., unpaid) caregivers also encounter difficulties which may negatively affect their quality of life as well as their mental and physical health. Loneliness is one important challenge that caregivers face, with this psychological state being associated with morbidity and premature mortality.”
How Stress in Caregiving affects Employment
Caregiving reduces employee work productivity by 18.5% and increases the likelihood of employees leaving the workplace. [Coughlin, J. (2010). Estimating the Impact of Caregiving and Employment on Well-Being: Outcomes & Insights in Health Management.
Statistics show 70% of working caregivers suffer work-related difficulties due to their dual work and caring roles, and 39% of caregivers leave their job to have more time to care for a loved one.
Stress, anxiety, depression, financial stress, and loneliness are prevalent for many caregivers and heightened at Thanksgiving. We should be even more aware of these issues around the holiday period.
How You Can Work with Family First to address Caregiving issues during Thanksgiving and beyond
With Family First employees and their loved ones will be matched with an accredited Care Expert to serve as a dedicated point of contact.
Care Experts are part of a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, nurses, social workers, licensed counselors, and other professionals who work together to ensure all aspects of the caregiving journey are effective.
More than just logistical or navigation support, Family First experts have decades of experience solving caregiving challenges. They know how to get to the root of caregiving problems and devise holistic, coordinated plans to solve them.
We make it easy for your employees to connect with our Care Team. Employees can start a case online or by phone. They will receive exceptionally-personalized caregiving solutions to help overcome the stress of caregiving.
The results allow employers to recruit and retain top talent by providing access to the experts your employees need to guide them to a resolution and support them in ongoing caregiving circumstances.
In the Family First survey of employee caregivers, 3 out of 4 respondents said their employer could do more to support them. If you want to support employee caregivers and attract and retain top talent, request a demo below.