Every day at Jewish Family & Career Services, I witness the power of a simple but profound idea: we are not alone.
Life’s trials impact us in different ways, but at JFCS, people from every background and age, every orientation and origin can find support. They discover strength in the community of others who face common challenges and recognize that the need for comfort and relief during trying times underscores what it means to be human.
And, while we cannot avoid the turbulence of difficult life events, we contend that no one must stand on the shaky ground alone.
Of course, that idea is often difficult to acknowledge, especially when we are in a chronic state of stress. This is particularly true for those who serve as caregivers for aging loved ones.
So, what do we hear from caregivers — individuals devoting so much of their time to ensure their loved ones live with dignity and comfort? They feel guilty and overwhelmed. They’re fearful they are not doing enough. They regularly neglect their own needs and instead prioritize the needs of those in their care.
These shared truths are why we hosted our biennial Caregiver Survival Conference on Monday, November 11. With generous support from the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence, the conference featured Sherri Snelling, CEO and Founder of the Caregiving Club. Experts on matters related to elder care, including attorney Shari Polur, led breakout sessions and provided information related to the vitally important, albeit emotionally draining, responsibilities caregivers shoulder.
Experts at the conference emphasized a fact that most of us recognize but rarely practice — we are more able to care for others when we also prioritize care for ourselves. It is our hope that each person who joined us at the conference left with a better understanding of the importance of self-care.
Coming together at a conference or in a support group fosters a sense of community among individuals facing common challenges. This is crucial. Many caregivers tell us they feel few people understand the emotional toll that characterizes their experience. They feel they are carrying this weight alone.
In fact, more than 40.4 million people in the United States serve as unpaid caregivers of adults over the age of 65, according to the Pew Research Center. And while each experience is distinct, caregivers can find comfort in engaging with other people facing similar burdens.
JFCS is committed to ensuring that everyone who walks through our doors feels a sense of connection, dignity and hope. Caregiver support is an expression of this promise to our community.
If caregiving has become part of your life, JFCS is here so that you do not have to go it alone.
Learn more about our caregiver support services.
By Deb Frockt, Chief Executive Officer
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