Since it’s November and National Family Caregivers Month, I decided it was time to educate others and let family caregivers know they are not alone. I know when I was my father’s caregiver, I didn’t know anyone else in my position and I didn’t know there were so many family caregivers dealing with similar stresses each day.
Once again, I turned to our local newspapers, and sent letters to the editors of two “throw away” newspapers. One paper won’t come out until Friday, and frankly, I’ll be surprised if they print the letter. The News Enterprise comes out on Wednesday morning, and since I e-mailed the letter yesterday, I was surprised to see that it was published today.
In addition, I was asked by another website, www.girlfriendswithagingparents.com if I would like to be a guest blogger. I wrote a blog for them on National Family Caregiver Month that is very similar to the article, below. You can read the blog on their website on Thursday, November 8, 2012.
November is National Family Caregivers Month
On November 1, 2012, President Barack Obama signed a Proclamation, which reads in part, “During National Family Caregivers Month we recognize and thank the humble heroes who do so much to keep our families and our communities strong.”
A family caregiver may be a parent, spouse, adult child or friend who is responsible for the daily needs of another person. They balance the needs of a loved one while trying to take care of the rest of their family and themselves, plus work, volunteer, or go to school. Becoming a family caregiver can happen suddenly. A severely handicapped child is born, a spouse has a stroke, a diagnosis is given, or parents can no longer take care of themselves. Unplanned, it is a stressful occasion.
Caregiving consists of two parts. One part is the medically related situations that require immediate attention. The other part is the issues that arise daily and do not have an end. These are the day-to-day assistance needed by someone: monitoring medications, stocking groceries, and paying the other person’s bills. All this is being done in addition to everything else the caregivers are already doing in their own life.
You know family caregivers even if you don’t realize it. They don’t advertise their situation, it’s just part of their lives. You stand in line next to them in the store, sit by them at the high school football game or next to them in church. They are your neighbors, coworkers and friends. Don’t shy away from them. Being a family caregiver is not contagious, and neither is the life situation that has made them a caregiver.
If you know a person who is a family caretaker, lend them a hand by offering to help with specific tasks. Let them know you are able to help by picking up the groceries for their housebound parent, supplying a monthly dinner to the caregiver’s family, being available to help in an emergency (remember, these caregivers are often juggling numerous family duties) or sometimes more importantly, lending an ear or shoulder to cry on when needed. A friendly phone call, e-mail, or greeting card can make a difference in a caregiver’s day.
If you are a family caregiver, please know that you are not alone. One in five Americans is a family caregiver. Caregivers are fortunate to have the internet to assist them in finding help. Resources such as www.caregiving.com are available 24/7 so you can connect with other family caregivers. Knowing you are not alone in this journey makes it a little easier.
As stated in the White House Proclamation, “National Family Caregivers Month is a tune to reflect on the compassion and dedication that family caregivers embody every day. As we offer our appreciation and admiration for their difficult work, let us also extend our own offers of support to them and their loved ones.”