A Place for Mom is proud to stand with the more than 65 million heroic family caregivers across the country.
November is National Caregiver’s Month, a tradition that began as National Family Caregiver’s Week in 1997. As the importance of family caregivers has gained recognition over the years, the awareness week has grown into an awareness month. Earlier this month the President delivered a poignant message to caregivers, honoring their difficult work:
“Across America, daughters and sons balance the work of caring for aging parents with the demands of their careers and raising their own children. Spouses and partners become caregivers to the ones they love even as they navigate their own health challenges… All of them give selflessly to bring comfort, social engagement, and stability to those they love… National Family Caregivers Month is a time to reflect on the compassion and dedication that family caregivers embody every day. As we offer our appreciation and admiration for their difficult work, let us also extend our own offers of support to them and their loved ones.”
A Place for Mom is proud to join the President in honoring family caregivers across America. As part of those efforts, here are 10 facts that every caregiver should know:
1. You’re not alone.
More than 65 million Americans care for their aging or disabled loved ones on a yearly basis. (National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare, 2009)
2. Your work is valuable.
The value of the unpaid care these 65 million caregivers provide is estimated to be worth $375 billion. (National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare, 2009)
3. You are America’s #1 long-term care provider.
Family caregivers provide a staggering 90% of long-term care in America. (Institute of Medicine, 2008)
4. Caregiving is costly.
Nearly half of working caregivers report that caregiving expenses have depleted most—or even all—of their savings. (National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare, 2009)
5. You have to care for yourself first.
If you’re not keeping yourself healthy and happy, it’s doubtful that you will be able to do your best for your loved one. Review the caregiver’s bill of rights and remember to take care of yourself.
6. Knowledge and spirituality can make your job easier.
A 2004 survey found that 73 % of caregivers said that praying helps them to cope with the stress. 44 % said that reading books about caregiving and visiting supportive websites like our Caregiver’s Blog helps them not only to manage their daily frustrations, but also gives them a sense of community. (National Alliance for Caregiving, 2004)
7. You have someone to talk to.
Caregiver support groups meet throughout the United States. For those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association maintains a database of support groups. General caregiving support groups that aren’t specifically focused on memory loss can be found by contacting your local hospital. Furthermore, there are many online support groups and forums for caregivers, including A Place for Mom’s own elder care forum.
8. You can take a break.
Just because you’ve committed to caring for a loved one doesn’t mean you can’t take a break. Respite care is short-term care, lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, that can be provided at a local senior community or even in the home. Adult daycare is another similar option. These services allow family caregivers to relax and “recharge” with the knowledge that their loved one is safe and sound.
9. You have limits.
Despite the demonstrated strength and perseverance of family caregivers, each of us has limits. It’s important to recognize when our loved one has declined to a point that professional care is the best option.
10. Help is available.
If you do decide that your loved one needs more than you alone can provide, A Place for Mom can help. Our Senior Living Advisors work one-on-one with families to help them find the most appropriate care for their older loved one. Click here to get in touch with a Senior Living Advisor in your area.
How has being a caregiver affected your life? What should other family caregivers know? We welcome your comments below.