There are an estimated 43.5 million caregivers in the United States, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. Chances are, you probably have at least one family caregiver in your life. What you may not know is that November is National Family Caregivers Month, giving us all the chance to show our respect and support for all that caregivers do.
National Family Caregivers Month
When the calendar turns to November, that means it’s National Family Caregivers Month. Family caregivers should be honored and recognized year round, but the month of November presents an opportunity to raise awareness for the challenges of caregiving and increase support for caregivers. The national holiday, which will be observed this year under the theme “Caregiving Around the Clock,” was put forth by the Caregiver Action Network (CAN), a nonprofit organization that provides education, resources and support for family caregivers.
How Stress Can Affect a Caregiver’s Health
Caregiving for a loved one is a lot of responsibility for one person and that can take a toll. They may feel 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. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed, and the stress from caregiving can manifest itself in a variety of ways.
Caregivers may frequently alternate between feeling angry or sad, have trouble maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, eat poorly and even lose interest in things they once enjoyed. Increased stress can also open the door to other health problems. If a caregiver is maintaining a poor diet, they are more vulnerable to heart disease and high blood pressure.
How to Support the Caregiver in Your Life
How can you celebrate National Family Caregivers Month on your own? You can show support and appreciation for the caregiver in your life. If you’re not sure how to go about it, consider starting with a few simple ideas that can make a difference in the life of a caregiver:
Encourage Them to Open Up
If you were to ask a caregiver about their own well-being, they’re likely to give you a brief answer that may not be entirely truthful because being open and honest about their struggles can be difficult. They may think you’re not actually interested in hearing about their experiences, so it’s up to you to make clear that you understand caregiving can be hard and that you’re here to provide the emotional support they need. You don’t have to pry, but you can at least extend an invitation for a more in-depth conversation about what they’re going through.
Not everyone who comes to you with a problem is looking for a solution. That can be difficult to accept, especially if you’re a problem solver. But sometimes all a caregiver needs is someone who is willing to listen. They just need to get something off their chest. Caregivers may ask you for advice, in which case you can offer it, but try to be more of a confidant than anything.
Lend a Helping Hand
The most valuable gift you can give a caregiver is time. Often, they may feel like they don’t have enough of it. They have to prioritize how they spend the time they have, and “me time” is the first to be sacrificed. You have the chance to give them that “me time” back by volunteering to sit with the loved one in their care or volunteer to run an errand for them. Anything you can do to free them from responsibility, even if only for a short period of time, can make a world of difference.
Find Respite Care at Newcastle Place
One alternative that can help avoid caregiver burnout is respite care. Respite care services are offered in senior living communities to give caregivers a much-needed break, providing care for their loved one and allowing the caregiver to use that time however they choose. Newcastle Place is one such community, offering short-term respite care services in our Highlands Health Center for a minimum stay of seven days. Caregivers are able to enjoy peace of mind knowing their loved one has access to 24/7 skilled nursing while under our trusted care.
If you or someone you know would benefit from respite care, we encourage you to fill out the form below or call us at 262-387-8800 for more information.