“National Family Caregivers Month is a time 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.” – President Barrack Obama
Not all heroes wear capes and fly around. They don’t even need to have suits made out of spandex. They’re all among us, devoting countless hours to provide care for the people that mean the most to their hearts.
As declared by President Obama in 2012, November is National Family Caregivers Month. Have you heard of it? It’s a month set aside to honor the men and women who look after a family member or loved one. Many of these heroes chose to step up to the challenge after their elderly parent or friend was placed in a situation where assistance became needed.
According to The Chicago Tribune, over 90 million Americans are serving as family caregivers. They volunteer their time, their services, and sometimes their overall well-being.
Reports show that 23% of those caring for an individual for five years or more claim to be in “fair” or “poor” health. Those who are placed in extremely stressful caregiving situations have been shown to prematurely age, with some studies claiming the act can take off 10 years of their life. 10 years!
So what’s causing this in the first place?
Overall, caregivers’ health declines because they are putting the well-being of their family member or loved one before their own; ignoring taking trips to the doctor or worrying about their own conditions. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), 51% say they simply do not have enough time in the day to take care of themselves.
This is truly selfless work.
So this November, let’s offer our hand of support to these amazing men and women. There are plenty of ways that we can have a great impact on their health – whether physically or emotionally.
Here are just a few ways you can give back to caregivers this month:
Give them the night off – Everyone enjoys a vacation. Offer to take care of their family member/friend for the day or night and let them have some time to themselves.
Say “Thank you” – Many caregivers work what’s essentially a “thankless” job. Tell them (verbally or in a card) how grateful you are for what they do.
Find a way to laugh – Sometimes, laughter really is the best medicine. Although they take their duty seriously, caregivers love to laugh too! Take them out to see a funny movie or comedy routine to get them the emotional relief they’ve been looking for.
Be present – When a caregiver speaks, listen. If they are putting off doing something for themselves – such as going to the doctor or dentist – offer to help in any way you can.
Send them helpful resources – No matter how long they’ve been giving care, there are plenty of resources online for family caregivers to take advantage of. For example, caregiver.org has tons of articles and tips on everything you’d ever want to know about caregiving. Find a great resource and share it!
This National Family Caregivers Month, try to find a way to give back to those who give so much to others. You don’t have to use one of the ideas above; be creative! There are so many opportunities to show caregivers that you appreciate what they do.
If you’ve got a creative suggestion for how to give back to caregivers this month, leave us a comment below!