It's Time to Be Kind to Family Caregivers

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It’s Time to Be Kind to Family Caregivers

It’s Time to Be Kind to Family Caregivers

November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to be especially kind to those who care for aging family members. Many of those who are family caregivers are boomer women, sandwiched between the needs of their parents and their kids. They give, give, give to loved ones, while often sacrificing their own needs.

The Life of a Family Caregiver

I’m familiar with the life of a family caregiver. I was a caregiver to my late husband during his illness. For many months, I visited him in the hospital each evening, driving a long distance after a full day of work, then home to make dinner for my son, leaving little time to rest. Then I’d start the routine all over again.

Shortly after my husband died, my sister N and I became more active caregivers to my mom. We were grateful that mom lived on her own for most of her senior years. When she became ill at 89, we had to give care from afar because mom lived in Florida and N and I lived in the northeast, and that became quite difficult.

We decided it was best for mom to move into an assisted living environment where she would have the ongoing care she needed. As devoted daughters, moving my mom was a tough decision. We were glad mom thrived in her new home. She died in her early 90s.

 

My sister N and I were caregivers to my mom until she passed away a few years ago.

Being a family caregiver is a major commitment. Many of my friends who have aging parents tell me of their challenges: when their dad falls and breaks an ankle or hip, when their mom forgets to take her medicine due to Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia, when they have to play the parent to their parents and take away driving privileges. So many “What should I do?” issues pile on family caregivers that their shoulders get weighed down.

How Can You Help?

The Ad Council and AARP have kicked off a program this month that is designed to encourage all Americans to perform a “random act of kindness” for a caregiver. This nationwide movement is an effort to raise awareness of caregiving while also reaching caregivers directly, rewarding them for their ongoing support.

 

The goal is simple: Identify someone in your life or in your community who is serving as a caregiver and do something nice for them. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, just a small gesture that makes a caregiver’s life a little easier.

For example, last month I invited my friend A to dinner. She works full-time at a demanding job and also cares for her aging dad. I treated her to a relaxing yoga session and reminded her that this evening was totally for her. She greatly appreciated the break.Simply submit a summary of 150 words or fewer telling how you made a caregiver feel special, along with a photo. All participants will be entered to win a cash prize from a $10,000 pot.

More Resources for Caregivers

AARP provides a tremendous number of online resources for family caregivers at its Caregiving Resource Center.

Forty million heroes are caregivers all hours of the day and night to their loved ones. It’s a crisis that is only going to grow larger as the baby boomer generation grows older. Reach out and show some kindness to a caregiver. Even just listening to their stories can make a difference.

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