November:  National Family Caregivers Month

During National Family Caregivers Month, recognition is given to family caregivers who face many challenges when a family member needs full time care.

“Caregiving can be a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week job,” states the Caregiver Action Network, which spearheads National Family Caregivers Month. “Providing care around the clock can crowd out other important areas of life.”

Challenges family caregivers face, and how they manage 24-hours can look like this:

Mom: The average family caregiver is a working mother of school-aged children. Mornings become a balancing act of getting ready for school, making sure the person needing care has what they need for the day, and then getting out the door for work.

The more serious the condition, the more likely it is that the family caregiver manages the medications for their loved one. This means overseeing medications are being taken correctly and maintaining an up-to-date medication list.

Six out of 10 family caregivers work full or part time in addition to juggling their caregiving responsibilities within the home. Many must cut back on their work schedules, some take a leave of absence, or quit their job entirely.

Evenings are for family time and mealtime. Nutrition is as important for caregivers as it is for their loved ones. Proper nutrition helps maintain strength, energy, stamina, and a positive attitude.

Late at night might be the only time a family caregiver gets a few minutes of privacy to rest and recharge. The chance to take a breather and re-energize is vital so they can repeat the cycle.

During the night there may be an emergency, and on occasion a trip to the hospital.  Family caregivers must be prepared with information about their loved one’s medical condition as well as be organized with all that might be necessary for a hospital stay.  Emergencies impact the entire household, not just the family caregiver.

The first National Family Caregivers Month was a Presidential Proclamation in 1997, and every president since has followed suit by issuing an annual proclamation recognizing and honoring family caregivers in November.

The Caregiver Action Network (CAN) is the nation’s leading family caregiver organization working to improve the quality of life for more than 90 million Americans who care for family members with chronic conditions, disabilities, medical conditions, or the frailties of old age. The nonprofit organization provides education, peer support and resources to family caregivers across the country free of charge.

To all the caregivers in the world, if you’re a family caregiver or a professional caregiver, know that who you are and what you do is recognized as one of the most important acts of service one can give.  Thank you!

Ramona Hunt, M.S.                                                                                                                                         Touching Hearts, Inc.

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