2020 National Family Caregivers Month

“Throughout this month, let us remember these men and women who spend their days caring for others, and let us pray that they are sustained by grace and strength as they carry on this important work.” 

This is an excerpt from the Proclamation on National Family Caregivers Month, 2020, which was issued on October 30, 2020, by President Donald J. Trump. You can read the entire article here.

The challenges are real. Caregiving is a huge undertaking. On top of the heavy responsibilities that we already have such as maintaining full time jobs, caring for our husbands and children and/or grandchildren, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Caregiving is a difficult additional job, forcing you to wear many different hats. Many times, you are performing double the tasks. Caregivers perform these selfless acts for their loved ones without any thought given to themselves. There simply never seems to be enough time to accomplish the magnitude of what is required to care for a loved one.   

It is vital that you care for yourself and your well-being in order to do the best job you can for your loved ones. You may feel that this is a thankless job, but it is important to remember the care you received and the sacrifices made on your behalf when you were younger. Remembering things your parents gave up for you makes it a lot easier to maintain respect and to concentrate on making your loved one as happy and comfortable as possible during this confusing time.   This is a tough job, but you do not have to do it alone. Learning to seek help from outside resources as well as those offering assistance to you will aid you in managing things such as medical issues, financial decisions, as well as the day-to-day requirements that you may be struggling with.   

It is sometimes hard to keep in mind that your loved one may be in a different place than you are with regard to the level of care you believe is necessary. No one at ANY age wants to relinquish the level of independence they have worked toward their entire lives. How we manage and address the loss that these people are experiencing is an important facet of caregiving that is often overlooked. Particularly, if we are overwhelmed with the abundance of things we consider priorities versus needs and wants of our loved ones. Learning how to address important losses in the right way can help you navigate better and possibly, avoid depression with our loved ones. Depression is prevalent in our elderly and needs to be addressed.  Particularly, with the additional measures required during the pandemic. Strive to not let your loved one feel isolated or, treated like a child. Approaching your parent in an aggressive or condescending manner can lose any measure of cooperation by your parent.  Do you as the caregiver have a support network? If not, there are resources to assist you in developing a care plan that not only benefits your loved one, but provides support to you as the caregiver.  Maintaining your physical and emotional well-being is vital. You have to be strong enough to care for your loved one to be able to provide the level of assistance necessary.  In light of the pandemic, we have additional duties placed upon us for caring for our loved ones.  How can we do more than we are already doing?   First and foremost, an honest conversation about why changes are necessary and why things are going to look different. Your loved ones may not understand why they cannot have visitors they are used to or why they cannot go on their anticipated outings, or family parties. The loss across the world is great, but explaining in terms that show your care, concern and protection of your loved one will help them to understand that your only intention is for their health and safety. Even if they give you a hard time.  It is estimated that there are currently over 65 million unpaid caregivers. This month is dedicated to showing our appreciation to our caregivers for their dedication and love.   

If you are a caregiver, a plan needs to be devised and in place for your loved one should you contract the virus or develop other health issues. Always have an emergency contact should unforeseen events occur.   

Several resources available are: USA.gov AgingCare.com AARP.org Caregiveraction.org Caring.com Aplaceformom.com HHS National Family Caregiver Support Program

"To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors."

- Tia Walker, author.