National Family Caregivers Month – celebrated each November – is a time to recognize and honor family caregivers across the country. Celebrating Family Caregivers during NFC month enables all of us to:
- Raise awareness of family caregiver issues
- Celebrate the efforts of family caregivers
- Educate family caregivers about self-identification
- Increase support for family caregivers
The first rule of taking care of others: take care of yourself first. Caregiving can be a rewarding experience, but it is also physically and emotionally demanding. The stress of dealing with caregiving responsibilities leads to a higher risk of health issues among the Nation’s 90 million family caregivers. So as a family caregiver, remember to pay attention to your own physical and mental wellness, and get proper rest and nutrition. Only by taking care of yourself can you be strong enough to take care of your loved one. You really do need to “take care to give care!”
- Caregiving can be a stressful job. Most family caregivers say they feel stressed providing care for a loved one. With all of their caregiving responsibilities – from managing medications to arranging doctor appointments to planning meals – caregivers too often put themselves last.
- The stress of caregiving impacts your own health. One out of five caregivers admit they have sacrificed their own physical health while caring for a loved one. Due to stress, family caregivers have a disproportionate number of health and emotional problems. They are twice as likely to suffer depression and are at increased risk for many other chronic conditions.
- Proper nutrition helps promote good health. Ensuring that you are getting proper nutrition is key to help maintain your strength, energy and stamina, as well as strengthening your immune system. Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the most powerful things you can do to take care of yourself and keep a positive attitude overall.
- Ensuring good nutrition for your loved one helps make care easier. As many as half of all older adults are at risk for malnutrition. Good nutrition can help maintain muscle health, support recovery, and reduce risk for re-hospitalization – which may help make your care of a loved one easier.
- Remember: “Rest. Recharge. Respite.” People think of respite as a luxury, but considering caregivers’ higher risk for health issues from chronic stress, those risks can be a lot costlier than some time away to recharge. The chance to take a breather, the opportunity to re-energize, is vital in order for you to be as good a caregiver tomorrow as you were today.
10 Tips for Family Caregivers
- Seek support from other caregivers. You are not alone!
- Take care of your own health so that you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one.
- Accept offers of help and suggest specific things people can do to help you.
- Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors.
- Caregiving is hard work so take respite breaks often.
- Watch out for signs of depression and don’t delay getting professional help when you need it.
- Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one.
- Organize medical information so it’s up to date and easy to find.
- Make sure legal documents are in order.
- Give yourself credit for doing the best you can in one of the toughest jobs there is!