November is National Family Caregiver’s Month. The goal is to bring awareness to caregiving and highlight the role that many play daily. The theme for 2017 is Caregiving Around the Clock and is spearheaded by The Caregiver Action Network . We often associate November with Thanksgiving and I think it’s a great month to give thanks to all who do so much to help those close to us in need of assistance whether it’s helping a senior recuperating from an illness or managing through the daily effects of the aging process or caring for a special needs child and even for the everyday deeds of family management. So let me be the first to tell you thank you this month if you are a caregiver for all that you do
It is often a 24/7 job that has a lot of responsibilities at any given moment.
Let’s take a peek inside of a typical caregiver’s day:
You may be making sure your family and your loved one has what they need before going off to work. That would entail making sure that they have what they need to last them throughout the day such as food and medications. During the day, you may find yourself scheduling doctor’s appointments for making follow up calls or checking in on your loved one during your lunch break. In the evening you may be returning home from work and are now challenged with getting dinners on the table and being torn with spending quality time with family. You must remember to eat too even though you are caring for others – that’s how you can maintain a level of endurance to go on! When night falls, it’s important to get some rest – I’m often challenged by this as this is the one time that it’s quite and the house is still so it’s tempting to stay up late to catch a little bit of respite time. However, it’s important that you get sleep and that’s how your body will recuperate and recharge. Occasionally, you may be met with a night time interruption, hopefully it isn’t a regular occurrence but be prepared just in case you have to go with essentials in a bag such as a list of medications and a medical history in case you have to run to the ER so you can best serve emergency medical staff.
Doesn’t this seem like a jam packed day? Over 90 million Americans provide some sort of unpaid support for those with chronic illnesses or conditions dealing with the elderly, special needs children and wounded soldiers on top of managing the household of their able bodied families.
So what can you do as a caregiver or a family member?
As a caregiver you can:
- Try to plan as much as you can in advance to prep for your upcoming week.
- Utilize technology such as your smart phone to keep on top of appointments and set reminders. – Don’t fully rely on your memory to keep track of your family’s events or your loved one’s appointments. – Give yourself some grace.
- Make sure you get some respite time – which can be a 5-10 minute break or getting to bed early enough so that you can get much needed rest to have energy for the next day’s activities.
As a family member or friend you can:
- Offer a helping hand – prepare a meal, or take a loved one to that doctor appointment so the primary caregiver can have a break.
- Check in – whether you live near or far a friendly call asking how the caregiver is doing can do wonders. Of course check to see how your loved one is doing but don’t forget to ask the caregiver is doing and engage in conversation with them that is not centered on their caregiving duties.
- Offer some relief – agree to sit with their loved one while they go out and run some errands or have some “me” time.
As you can see, everyone has a role in the family. By incorporating these few small gestures, it acknowledges the hard work that a caregiver puts in, which is often round the clock, and lets them feel appreciated.
Stay tuned -For this month stay tuned, I’ll be sharing a lot more articles including tips and resources to bring further awareness and assist those on a caregiving journey.