National Family Caregivers Month 

by John Baldwin, FLT Columnist

“My wife has dementia and I am going to do what I can to keep her at home.”

“My father died recently and Mom needs our help.”

 “My 90-year-old uncle lives across town all alone, so someone in our family visits him every day.”

Family caregivers are some of our nation’s most dedicated heroes – devoted men and women who tirelessly attend to loved ones with an illness, disability or limitations of aging. Each November, America celebrates National Family Caregivers Month to recognize and honor family caregivers across our country. From metropolitan brownstones and urban care facilities to rolling farmsteads and rural assisted living centers, family caregivers compassionately assist parents, spouses, extended family, friends and neighbors.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 34 million unpaid caregivers nationwide care for someone age 18 or older who is dealing with sickness or disability. These millions represent roughly 21 percent of all U.S. households.

Countless family members in our communities are providing good care for their loved ones. It’s an honor for Right at Home to come alongside these caregivers with upmost respect and practical support. Sometimes we are there to help with hands-on care and other times mainly a listening ear. Family caregivers deserve our appreciation not just in November but 365 days a year.

Family caregivers come from diverse backgrounds and care circumstances. She may be the granddaughter stopping by her grandparents’ home twice a week with fresh produce, or the son driving 300 miles every other week to take his father to his cancer treatments. Fueled by love and sacrifice, the role of a volunteer caregiver knows few limits.

Fortunately, a plethora of national and local organizations and online resources are available to family caregivers. For a local list of caregiver services and organizations, caregivers can contact county and state government agencies including the Health and Human Services Department, Social Services Department and Public Health Department. The social services department of local hospitals and medical clinics or adult daycare centers and faith-based agencies is other avenue for learning about services and programs available to family caregivers and care recipients.

The following is a summary list of national family caregiver resources:

  • Family Caregiver Alliance offers services and publications based on caregiver needs at the local, state and national levels. The group’s caregiver.org website offers a wealth of helpful information from caregiving tips and fact sheets to personal stories and newsletters.
  • National Alliance for Caregiving is a nonprofit coalition of national organizations whose org website connects family caregivers with information, videos, books and more that the alliance reviews and approves as providing beneficial information for caregivers.
  • gov, the official U.S. government site for Medicare, presents easy access to useful information about Medicare and other proven resources to help with family caregiving. The site includes links to partner organizations and essential caregiver information, such as: “What type of care is best for your loved one?” and “What every caregiver needs to know.”

The CDC finds that family caregivers report having “difficulty finding time for one’s self (35 percent), managing emotional and physical stress (29 percent), and balancing work and family responsibilities (29 percent). Dr. Eboni Green of Caregiver Support Services will address these concerns in a free webinar, “Caregiver Wellness: Power of U!” on Nov. 12 at 3 p.m. EST (2 p.m. CST, 1 p.m. MST and noon PST).

In recognition of National Family Caregivers Month, Right at Home Corporate is hosting this webinar featuring Dr. Green’s extensive experience in caregiver health and wellness, particularly caregiver stress, burnout and related family conflicts. Designed to help family and professional caregivers, the webinar will examine how stress and distress impact decision-making abilities of caregivers.

Attendees also will learn the important differences between the concepts of “helping caregiving” and “rescuing caregiving.” The “Caregiver Wellness: U Model” strengthens caregivers’ social, psychological, physical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational and financial well-being and incorporates empowerment and resilience. To register, go to http://bit.ly/DrGreenRegistration.

Also Nov. 11 is Veterans Day and encourages special recognition of all veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, especially those who bravely served our country and now selflessly serve as caregivers for their loved ones.

Right at Home, In Home Care and Assistance, is a locally owned and operated franchise office of Right at Home, Inc., serving the communities of Wood, Lucas and parts of Sandusky counties. For more information, contact Right at Home of Perrysburg at http://www.rahnwohio.com/, 567-336-6062 or by email at jbaldwin@rahnwohio.com.