November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to acknowledge, recognize and thank all caregivers who make their loved one’s lives better by providing assistance, comfort and sometimes specialized care.
“Our Nation was founded on the fundamental ideal that we all do better when we look out for one another, and every day, millions of Americans from every walk of life balance their own needs with those of their loved ones as caregivers. This month, and every month, let us lift up all those who work to tirelessly advance the health and wellness of those they love. Let us encourage those who choose to be caregivers and look toward a future where our politics and our policies reflect the selflessness and open-hearted empathy they show their loved ones every day.”
President Barack Obama, October 31, 2016
Most of us will at one time in our life become a caregiver. We might be the spouse, partner, daughter, son, niece, nephew or neighbor of someone who relies on us for help. It might be just a little help, like bringing in groceries, or we might be providing total care including feeding, bathing and dressing. Any of us might find ourselves in the role of being a caregiver, and it might be for only a short time or it might be for years.
With longer life expectancy due to advances in medical care, and the desire of many to remain at home as we age, the number of “informal” or unpaid caregivers has increased. According to National Alliance for Caregiving, it is estimated that 29% of the U.S. population is providing caregiving an average of 20 hours each week.
While each caregiving situation is unique, it is clear that caregivers must alter their own lives in some way, whether it is their work schedule, or reducing time with friends and family to be available for providing care. It is important for a caregiver to have support and manage their own health and well-being. Just like first fitting your own oxygen mask on the airline flight before helping another, caregivers also must practice self-care.
Powerful Tools for Caregivers (PTC) is a course that emphasizes self-care. It is now offered regionally through Kettering Health Network with funding from the Area Agency on Aging. For dates and locations for PTC near you, and to register to attend, please call (937) 555-3988. Visit www.powerfultoolsforcaregivers.org to learn more.