Caregivers for those with schizophrenia are reaching a breaking point in many countries. The average age of a caregiver for someone with schizophrenia is 61. Many of those caregivers are soon to be seniors, looking after their adult children without any help.
Many of these caregivers have a son or daughter who will have no one to look after them once their parents have died. They have severe mental illnesses and their parents provide necessary, daily care. Many are worried about what will happen to their adult child after they have passed away.
What are the most important concerns for caregivers of those with schizophrenia?
- Family members feel they have no influence on the treatment and care planning decisions for their adult child.
- Service providers tend to blame families for their children’s mental illnesses. Service providers don’t cooperate in working with them.
- Many health providers have not received adequate training about psychotic disorders.
- Doctors who do have knowledge of schizophrenia are not trained in working with families.
Some psychiatry programs have now started working to create alliances with caregiver groups.They listen to the family members and learn of the problems they have been experiencing.One of the most common problems they hear about is that the family member with schizophrenia doesn’t understand their illness.
Research has taught us that those with mental illness have a much better outcome if they learn everything they can about their illness and the treatments available. Families who are part of the early programs have seen the benefit of this type of education.Until more of these programs are put in place, caregivers will continue to struggle on their own.