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.
National Family Caregiver Month is coming up in November. According to the 2020 update from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 update, nearly 48 million people in the U.S. provide care for someone over the age of 18. Sixty-one percent of them continue to work while providing care. 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.
University of Illinois Extension has many resources available for caregivers. “Caregiving Relationships: For Those Who Care for Adults” is a 6-session program that can be provided on request by the family life educators with Illinois Extension. Topics include losses and mixed emotions; relationships in caregiving; self-care; communication; and, social service supports. These sessions were also offered as a webinar series called “Discover Caregiving” and the recordings of these webinars can be found online here. There are also several caregiving tip sheets that accompany this program and can be found online here.
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 the following web links with them for information they may find helpful:
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.
Author: Cheri Burcham is responsible for family life programming in the counties of Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Moultrie, Shelby and other parts of east central Illinois as needed. Cheri’s emphasis is on healthy lifestyles throughout the life span which include family relationships, communication, caregiving, stress management and human development including early childhood and healthy aging. Her passion is to help people to be their best selves and to promote a healthier, independent older population. When Cheri is not engaged in Extension work, she can be found raising Monarch butterflies and spreading the word about their amazing life cycles and migration to anyone who will listen!