If you didn’t already know, November is National Family Caregivers Month. It’s an opportunity for us to show support and appreciation for the caregivers in our lives. After all, there are an estimated 43.5 million caregivers in the United States, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. What can you do to support a caregiver? There are plenty of simple but effective ways you can make a difference in the life of a family caregiver.
National Family Caregivers Month
Every November, we celebrate National Family Caregivers Month. The national holiday, spearheaded by the Caregiver Action Network (CAN), invites us to recognize the family caregivers in our lives and across the country. CAN, which is a nonprofit organization that provides education, resources and support for family caregivers, proposed National Family Caregivers Month to raise awareness for the challenges of caregiving, educate our communities about caregiving and increase the support available to caregivers everywhere.
This year’s theme is “Caregiving Around the Clock.”
How Stress Can Affect a Caregiver’s Health
No caregiver likes to think of their responsibilities as a burden, but there is no denying that it puts a lot of weight on their shoulders. That weight is easier to manage some days than others. Caregivers can often feel like they have less time for themselves, struggle with a lack of privacy, experience feelings of depression and isolation, and suffer from emotional and physical stress. If it gets to be too much, it can have an impact on their physical and mental health.
You may notice that a caregiver frequently feels angry or sad, has trouble maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, maintains a poor diet and shows a diminished interest in hobbies or activities they once enjoyed. The stress of caregiving can have adverse effects on their physical health, especially if they aren’t eating healthy and aren’t very active. It can sap their strength and energy and make them more vulnerable to heart disease and high blood pressure.
How to Support the Caregiver in Your Life
Now that you’ve been made aware of National Family Caregivers Month, how can you do your part to support the caregiver in your life? Start simple. Here are a handful of easy ways you can show appreciation for a family caregiver and make a difference in their life:
Encourage Them to Open Up
How many times have you been asked how you’re doing and given a less than honest answer? Caregivers may not be all that eager, either, to be truthful about their well-being. So it’s up to you to make it clear that you care. You don’t have to pry if they’re not willing to open up, but you can at least acknowledge that you understand the hardships of caregiving and that you are willing to provide any emotional support they need. They may eventually take you up on the offer.
Sometimes, all a caregiver needs is someone willing to listen. You don’t have to talk. You don’t have to propose a solution to their problems. All you have to do is lend an ear as they unburden themselves with whatever they need to get off their chest. They may ask you for advice, in which case you can oblige, but you can start by making sure they feel heard.
Lend a Helping Hand
Nothing is more valuable to a caregiver than time. They rarely feel like they have enough of it. For that reason, they often feel like they need to make sacrifices. You can help reduce the number of sacrifices by giving them the gift of time. Offer to sit with the loved one in their care for a short time or run errands for them. Anything you can do to free up their time is a blessing.
Respite Care Options at Claridge Court
If you fear that a caregiver is suffering from burnout, one alternative that can help be beneficial to both them and the loved one in their care is respite care. Respite care is a service provided by senior retirement communities that allows a caregiver to trust the care of their loved one to a team of compassionate professionals for a period of time, providing the caregiver with a much-needed break from their responsibilities. The health center at Claridge Court provides respite care with a seven-day minimum commitment.
If you or someone you know would benefit from respite care, we encourage you to fill out the form below or call us at 913-385-4137 for more information.