Don’t forget to say THANK YOU!
“November is often thought of as the month for “giving thanks.” Not only do we celebrate our National Day of Thanksgiving in November, it has also been designated as “National Family Caregiver Month.” The theme this year is “Caring Around the Clock.”
This is a month to recognize, celebrate and give thanks to the estimated 43.5 million (AARP & Nat’l Alliance for Caregivers) family members, friends, neighbors, and volunteers who are providing unpaid care for a “loved one.” In 2014, the economic value of this care was estimated to be $470 billion. Though 75% of caregivers are still female, more men are assuming the caregiver role.
The theme, “Caregiving Around the Clock” gives recognition that the challenges faced in caring for another, continue day and night and tend to increase with the age of the one being provided care. This then increases demands on the caregiver, who sometimes may need to take a leave from work, reduce work hours, or stop working altogether. This may result in an increase of financial burden for the caregiver. These factors may serve to increase feelings of isolation, exhaustion, frustration and even depression for the caregiver.
What can we as family members or friends of a caretaker do to provide support and assistance. First and foremost would be to frequently express our recognition and appreciation for the invaluable care/work they give. Offer a few specific hours of respite time so that they caregiver can take needed time for own or other family members needed medical/dental/hair appointments or for lunch with a friend. Send periodic notes of appreciation, offer delivery of a few meals, send a small gift card or flowers. A caregiver might appreciate assistance with putting up or taking down holiday decorations or assistance with transportation . For new caregivers the offer to help identify community resources such as financial, meal delivery, free respite care, transportation, etc
We also want to encourage Caregivers to acknowledge your important and unique role as a Primary Caregiver. We encourage you to have medical providers and hospitals record you as the “Official Caregiver” so that you are involved and taken into account in the development of Care Plans for those in your charge. This is especially important after hospitalizations and whenever there may be a change in medications. There are a few states that already require Caregiver involvement and training as part of a patient’s hospital Discharge Plan. Also use new technology such as DRUG ID APP in helping to not only identify pills but also store their medication list in the history section for easy recall.
Again, our hearts are filled with gratitude for all that each of you Caregivers do every day!