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older woman being cared for by another woman

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The role that women have played in society has traditionally been limited to the family sphere, and despite the fact that it has been assuming other roles, it has been historically recognized as the natural caregiver of the family, a work that has not only been focused on raising children, but also in providing care, support and care to relatives who, due to illness or disability, require permanent help to carry out the basic activities of life.

The insertion of women in the labor market has led to this, in addition to assuming the tasks of caring for and attending to relatives, having to alternate their time with other work activities, implying excessive physical and mental wear and tear.

The Faculty of Nursing of the CES University of Medellín has been accompanying the municipality of Envigado in the execution of the Caregivers program, which focuses on providing support and accompaniment to primary caregivers in charge of meeting the needs of family members who due to disability or illness require care and constant help.

“Although the responsibility of care is assumed by the family group, this ends up being just a general category that hides within a reality in which it is only one of the family members who assumes the care work and is mainly a woman ” , expressed Maité Catalina Agudelo Cifuentes, professor at the CES School of Nursing.

According to the Faculty, among the beneficiaries of the program, there are 486 caregivers whose primary caregiver is a woman (86.2%); in most cases she is the daughter of the person she cares for (54.3%); although there are also those who take care of their siblings (14.2%) and husbands (12.3%).

In addition to the accompaniment that is carried out to the families, the Caregivers program also screens the conditions related to physical and mental health and quality of life, both of the subject of care and their primary caregiver, to achieve a positive impact on these aspects.

“It has been possible to identify how an important part of the women who carry out this work are older, with an average age of 59 years. About half reached the highest level of primary education, and a little less than half are married or have the accompaniment of their partner (43.2%) ” , explained Dedsy Berbesi Fernández, dean of the Faculty of Nursing.

These women, who have become protectors of the health of their dependent relatives, have a high probability of physical and emotional exhaustion. In this regard, it has been identified that one out of every five female caregivers refers to intense overload; Likewise, nine out of ten caregivers perceive their quality of life as deteriorated or regular, where the component most affected of the quality of life is that of social relationships followed by physical health.

This important work of caring was described by the Faculty of Nursing through a book, Quality of life of people in a situation of dependency due to illness or disability and their caregivers, derived from the analysis of the characteristics of caregivers and caregivers, where special emphasis was placed on the perception of quality of life and burden of primary caregivers. This makes it possible to highlight the role that women play as the main caregiver for family members who require constant support or assistance, and that derived from this is exposed to risks before the multiplicity of roles that they must assume. Society faces the challenge of balancing and reconciling the roles that have traditionally been assigned to women, not only vis-à-vis other social groups but within the family itself.

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