Supporting Families During National Caregivers Month
by Jane Meggitt
What would happen to so many people if there weren’t family caregivers? To honor them, November is designated National Caregivers Month (also called National Family Caregivers Month). It’s a time to recognize and support the work performed and sacrifices made by caregivers for their loved ones. Learn how to help and empower those who’ve assumed the caregiver role.
National Caregivers Month
Caregiving is hard and it’s typically unpaid work. National Caregivers Month is a time to honor the extraordinary dedication displayed by family caregivers, as well as educate the public regarding caregiving issues.
Many caregivers care for loved ones full time and they spend most (if not all) of their free time involved in caregiving. It can be a stressful and lonely life with one out of five caregivers feeling alone. Often this is because they reside with their care recipient. Caring for others may affect their own health, in addition to the emotional and financial toll taken. National Caregivers Month focuses on caring for the caregiver.
The Role of Caregivers
A cancer diagnosis changes the life not only of the patient, but of their entire family. Many caregivers are helping loved ones struggling with cancer. Caregivers of those with cancer may take loved ones to chemo and radiation treatment and help them endure the after-effects once they come home. They may need to feed, bathe and dress family members as they undergo therapy or as their condition declines.
How To Support Caregivers
How do you show gratitude for the caregivers in your community? It comes down to the fact that caregivers need support; if you’re able to cook and deliver a meal, or offer to run errands, it can make a huge difference. When such services are available, caregivers have the ability to take needed respites. By remaining well — physically and mentally — caretakers may have the ability to continue caring for their loved one for a longer period of time which could possibly keep the patient out of institutional care.
Advice for Caregivers
For caregivers, seek the support of others in your situation. Caregivers often become isolated, but you are not alone. There are many people caring for their loved ones, and they can provide advice about issues that others may not understand. Sharing valuable caregiving tips can lighten or even change your load.
If someone offers to help, accept it. Perhaps that person cannot look after your loved one, but they can go food shopping or run errands for you. If someone can look after your loved one for a morning or afternoon, accept the help and do something for yourself. You deserve a break.
Stay abreast of new technologies like smartphone apps that can help you care for your loved one more easily and effectively. Along with keeping medical information well-organized, communicate with the patient’s doctors and make sure you have a thorough understanding of the person’s prognosis and needs.
Caregiving is a tough and often thankless task. Do the best you can, and find a support group. Along with caregiving information, a support group is a place to share your feelings and make friends with those who really do know what you are going through.
For 70 years, Yosemite Pathology and Precision Pathology has advanced anatomic pathology in the Western United States. We offer a wide range of pathologic services among our more than 20 board certified anatomic pathology specialists. If your loved one is undergoing cancer treatment, we understand this difficult journey. For more information about our services, contact us today.
Jane Meggitt’s work has appeared in dozens of publications including USA Today, Zack’s, Financial Advisor, nj.com, The Houston Chronicle and The Nest. She is a graduate of New York University.
American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) – Caregiving in the U.S.
Care.com – 22 popular caregiver support groups
American Journal of Nursing – “Physical and Mental Health Effects of Family Caregiving”
Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) – Caregiver Statistics: Demographics
American Nursing Informatics Association (ANIA) – November Is National Family Caregivers Month
Administration for Community Living (ACL) – National Family Caregivers Month