November is National Family Caregiver Month, a program that was created to help and support caregivers. With over 65 million caregivers across America, many families have an aging loved one or chronically ill person that needs regular care. In fact, approximately 90% of this type of care is performed by a family member.
Though it’s an important and noble job, caregivers need special care themselves. National Family Caregiver Month is that time each year when special attention is directed toward those invaluable family members who do so much for their loved ones. So what types of special care do these important people need? Below are 7 great suggestions to get you started in the right direction:
1-Support groups for Family Caregivers
Many caregivers say they just don’t have time to attend a support group. Others say they don’t want to hear other caregivers complaining about how hard their job is. If you can get past the obvious objections, though, a support group is a great place to find people you have a lot in common with. Many of these groups are not just people complaining. Instead, attendees often share valuable tips they’ve learned that make life a little easier. Sometimes, you make a best friend; someone to go out to lunch with. Most professionals agree that support groups are beneficial in many ways. At least give it try. If you don’t like it, you can always drop out.
2-Go to church
A recent survey showed that 73 percent of all caregivers say that praying helps them. They enjoy getting out of the house on Sunday, perhaps having lunch with friends after service. The singing and worship at most churches can really lift your spirits, as well.
Just like anyone in any type of job, caregivers need to get away a few times each year and enjoy a nice vacation. If you belong to a local church or support group, they may be able to help you financially if money is an issue. There are many organizations today that can help by sending a nurse out for a few weeks each year. Take time for yourself and don’t feel guilty about it.
4-Know your limits
You may be able to do the job of caregiver for years with no problems whatsoever. But eventually, we all grow weary and need a break. If you feel something like this coming on, don’t despair. Instead, speak to your doctor or clergy about it. There’s no shame in placing your loved one in a nursing home for a few months or even years. Today’s nursing homes are clean, safe and well-run by professionals. You can also hire caregivers now from agencies that have fully vetted each individual.
5-Don’t put off asking for help
Many of us, in an effort to do everything we can for our loved ones, will continue on with our daily caregiving routine in spite of fatigue. In our hearts we know it’s time to try something else, but we try to hold out as long as possible before asking for help. This can cause the caregiver so much anguish and stress. It’s best to speak to someone, if only your doctor, as soon as you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed.
6-Read and write
Great books take us away from everyday life and help us experience some new adventure, perhaps on another planet. So reading a good book can give you an excellent way to escape. But there are also many books on aging, caregiving, Alzheimer’s, and similar topics. Writing is a good way to document your journey as a caregiver. Many of these journals have actually been published and have become very popular with the masses. You can write about your feelings, write poetry or even take a shot at writing your own literary masterpiece.
7-Consider all your options
In today’s world, there is an endless list of resources for caregivers and their families. Numerous organizations will help financially and in many other ways. Do some research. Take advantage of all the resources available to you. Below are just a few that may help:
• National Association of Agencies on Aging
• Administration on Aging
• National Alliance for Caregiving
• Eldercare Locator
• Children of Aging Parents
• Family Caregiver Alliance