November is the month we all start gathering with loved ones. It's also National Family Caregiver Awareness month. Caregivers are the unsung heroes of healthcare, providing the same as 450 billion dollars worth of care. These individuals provide for the basic needs of their loved ones, and also shoulder the burden once care needs become advanced and complex. While caring for another person can often times be joyous, there is also an incredible emotional and sometimes financial toll on those providing care. We wanted to take some time to highlight our invaluable caregivers, and talk about some things they may encounter and how we can support them. To all the family caregivers out there, here's to you!
Unpaid caregivers provide an estimated 90% of the long-term care (IOM, 2008)
More than 34 million unpaid caregivers provide care to someone age 18 and older who is ill or has a disability (AARP, 2008)
The majority (83%) are family caregivers—unpaid persons such as family members, friends, and neighbors of all ages who are providing care for a relative (FCA, 2005)
Caregivers said they do not go to the doctor because they put their family’s needs first (67% said that is a major reason), or they put the care recipient’s needs over their own (57%). More than half (51%) said they do not have time to take care of themselves and almost half (49%) said they are too tired to do so (NAC, 2004)
About 73% of surveyed caregivers said praying helps them cope with caregiving stress, 61% said that they talk with or seek advice from friends or relatives, and 44% read about caregiving in books or other materials (NAC, 2004).
For more information and statistics on family care giving, click here or here
Now- to be clear, being the primary caregiver for another person can be taxing, but it is also a profound source of joy. Our point in highlighting common challenges is to say that these people have taken on a lot of responsibility and they need support! Those of us who have been fortunate enough to provide care for a loved one would not have it any other way and receive great gratification in being able to provide a loving and safe space for one who is aging or requires special care. Sometimes the needs of the person being cared for can be too much for the family to manage, but until that time, there are some things that care takers need to lighten the load, even by the littlest bit.
Caregiving- How We Can Help
Listen. If you know someone who's taking care of another person, it's possible they need someone to vent to. You can provide a soft place for someone to voice their feelings. This can mean A LOT.
Provide a break. If you can, allow your friend/family member a break from caregiving. It doesn't have to be anything large. Maybe they just want to go to the grocery store, or a doctor's appointment. If you are comfortable, any time that you can give to allow this person some time for themselves will be appreciated.
Prepare a meal. "What's for dinner?" That simple, dreaded question asked every night- unless your meal planning skills are on point. A baked dish, frozen casserole or even a pizza delivered can make one less thing to worry about.
Ask how you can help! Often times, it's difficult for someone providing care to recognize they need help, or they may simply be hesitant to reach out. You can't go wrong by offering self and helping where you can.
If you know of anyone that might be able to assist with resources- social workers, nurses, physicians, therapists, etc, perhaps you can provide names of those individuals that may be able to help find resources.
How RNovations can help: RNovations Health is here to help. We provide community health seminars about managing conditions such as stress and diabetes. We also link people to community resources for their health and caregiving needs. There we assist people with learning the basics of their disease, medications, and treatments as well as techniques to manage stress. We can help you with medication and nutrition review and counseling, so that you can use to manage your health not only during the holidays, but every day thereafter. We also assist with health system navigation so that if you do need services, you are using the most effective mix of services. Give us a call at 804.386.4663 if you want to see how we can be of assistance to you or your group/community. You can also send us an email via the contact us page. We're here for you!
*The information contained above is for educational purposes only. Consult with your physician before making any changes to your diet or treatment regimen. Links provided above do not constitute and endorsement of any organization, rather that the information on the linked page has been verified.
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