November is National Family Caregiver Month and it is only fitting that we take a moment to honor this growing contingent that has become the foundation of care for our rapidly growing aging population. The services provided by family caregivers represent 80% of all home care services and are valued at $257 billion a year nationwide. That is more than twice the amount spent on paid home care and nursing home services combined.
Family caregiving can encompass a wide range of situations and responsibilities. It may include caring for a family member in your home, their home or an institutional setting. Caregivers may live in the same town as their loved one, nearby or across the country. Responsibilities may include attending to an individual’s emotional well-being and/or physical health. It may be long-term or during an acute period. It may involve care 24 hours a day, 4 hours a week or one visit a month. Caregivers may work outside the home 40 hours a week and may have their own nuclear family. Most have a life outside their caregiving responsibilities and may not have anticipated this new role. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. According to the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA), fifty-nine percent of the adult population either is or expects to be a family caregiver.
While many caregivers derive some satisfaction from their caregiver responsibilities, it frequently has a negative impact on their health and well-being. Many caregivers experience high levels of stress that lead to depression and burnout. Many may feel fatigued, anxious, angry and an overwhelming sense of guilt. Caregivers are juggling multiple responsibilities, which can leave them feeling overwhelmed most of the time.
If you are a caregiver, you play a very important role in the lives of our seniors, but it is necessary to redirect the focus back on you. Caregiver self-care is critical for the long term sustainability of your family member. The number one rule for all caregivers to remember is that you must take care of yourself in order to be effective in caring for another. If you are too tired, depressed, ill, angry, resentful, stressed or anxious, both you and your loved one will suffer. It is important to recognize the reality of your situation, understand your limitations and be aware of resources that can help. Planning for your own care is just as important as planning for the care of your loved one.
Jewish Family & Career Services (JFCS) works with more than 500 family caregivers annually and recognizes the needs and issues they present. We will honor family caregivers through a special Caregiver Survival Workshop which will be held at the Olmsted on November 10 from 9:30am-3pm. Brenda Avadian will present I am a Caregiver and I Matter. Brenda Avadian, MA, an award-winning speaker, is a national spokesperson for family and professional caregivers and an author of nine books including Finding the Joy in Alzheimer’s. This program is FREE for family caregivers. Reservations are required for this event.
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