We all know someone who is providing care for someone else. They may be caring for an older parent, a disabled adult child, or a spouse suffering from a traumatic injury or chronic illness. Even parents raising children are considered caregivers. Caregivers give of themselves without expecting anything in return, and they rarely think of themselves first.
November is National Family Caregiver Month. Over 34 million people in the U.S. provide care for someone over the age of 50. 22% of them provide care for more than 41 hours a week, and the majority of caregivers continue to work. Although there tends to be an average profile for caregivers, their population is greatly diverse representing both genders and all races, cultures and ages. It is a rewarding experience for most, but also has many challenges. Caregivers experience many difficult emotions along their journey, and can also experience many losses including loss of privacy, freedom, money, identity and work.
We should all reach out to someone we know in that caregiver role and offer some small kindness. Can you run an errand for them? Provide a meal? Maybe send them on an evening out while you supervise? Even a small encouraging note or gift would brighten their day. You could also share these web links with them for information they may find helpful:
U of I Extension Caregiving Resources page:
AARP Caregiving Tools:
Illinois Department on Aging Caregiver Support:
National Institute on Aging Caregiving page:
Our caregivers are valuable treasures that we need to acknowledge. Take a moment today to support them and encourage them to also care for themselves.