In honor of November National Family Caregivers Month, I’ve written about the role that caregiving plays in our society. In “A Month To Honor Family Caregivers,” I reinforced what it was like to care for my mom as she aged and why I am so grateful for all the little things I can do each day, things that I used to often take for granted.
Last week, in recognition of November National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, I shared some staggering statistics about this debilitating disease and it’s impact on family caregivers. Sadly, every 67 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
A Celebration of Caregiving Event
On Friday, I attended “A Celebration of Caregiving Event” at Rutgers University in Camden, N.J., which was sponsored by AARP New Jersey. The event was attended by many local caregivers who told their stories of caring for their moms, dads, aunts, uncles and elderly neighbors.
Jim Dieterle, AARP New Jersey State Director, quoted former first lady Rosalyn Carter when he spoke about the lifecycle of caregiving.”Mrs. Carter said there are four kinds of people in the world: Those who have been caregivers. Those who are caregivers. Those who will be caregivers. Those who will need caregivers.” It’s a reminder that the role of the caregiver is bigger and broader than we may realize.
National Family Caregivers Month
Since this week is Thanksgiving and a time for family gatherings, I’m pleased to partner with fellow midlife bloggers at Midlife Boulevard to bring you additional public service information about National Family Caregivers Month.
Where are you in your lifecycle of caregiving? Even if you are not presently a caregiver, I bet as a boomer girl that you know one (or more) of the more than 42 million caregivers in the U.S. who provide an estimated $450 billion worth of unpaid care to aging relatives and friends. Be sure to reach out to these caregivers and thank them for all that they do. Offer them assistance if they need help. Be there to listen to them when they need a sounding board or shoulder to cry on. Juggling the demands of caregiving can be very stressful.
Resources For Caregivers
I applaud the new public service announcements from AARP and the Ad Council. The ads illustrate the changing roles of parents and children through the years. Have you seen these ads? Check them out Caregiver Assistance Spoon and Caregiver Assistance Bath. Let me know what you think. Do they strike a cord with you like they did with me?
AARP has also created a community of experts and other caregivers to help at aarp.org/caregiving. You can find great resources including:
♥ Prepare to Care – This booklet provides a comprehensive caregiving planning guide for families – with a general needs assessment and personal and health checklist, a medication guide, and financial and benefits toolkit.
♥ 12 Resources Every Caregiver Should Know About – A handy list of support, services and tips for caregivers such as links to Social Security Administration, Medicare, and an eldercare locator.
♥ Juggling Work and Caregiving – Download this free ebook written by Amy Goyer, an expert on aging and families.
♥ 10 Tips for Caregivers During the Holidays – Helpful hints on ways to handle the stress of caregiving during this festive season.
Share Your Caregiving Story
At Friday’s AARP New Jersey event, Melita Jordan, CNM, MSN, APRN C, Director of Chronic Disease Prevention and Control of Family Health Services , NJ Dept of Health, spoke eloquently about caregiving for her mom who has Alzheimer’s disease. “Mom cared for me when I couldn’t care for myself,” Melita said. “Now it’s time to care for my loved one.” She added that “It’s important to tell the stories. The fun ones. The sad ones. Your stories may help others care for someone else.”
This month AARP is sharing caregiver stories on its I Heart Caregivers website.
As I cherish time with my loved ones this week, there will be a special place in my heart for my late hubby M. Thanksgiving was one of his favorite holidays and I’m glad I can carry on his tradition as host of our family’s turkey day.
Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving!
I like the former First Lady’s definition. Everyone knows, loves, is, or needs a caregiver. Sometimes all four at different times in life!
Yes Anne, Mrs. Carter’s words ring true for us all.
My mother is currently in the hospital she has a large bedsore she’s not eating enough for it to heal I don’t know whether to have a peg tube placed in her or not what are the pros and cons of doing this?
Phyllis, so sorry to hear about your mom. I would recommend you talk with a physician for advice on the best ways to handle your mom’s illness.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family with prayers to you and your beloved husband.
I am so happy you got to attend that AARP event. I would love to go to those someday…In the meantime thank you for writing and sharing this very important piece.
Thanks as always Cathy for your support. It was a very interesting event and AARP holds other events throughout NJ.
Thank you for your thoughtful article on recognizing caregivers.
I was in charge of helping my parents in their older years. It was stressful at times, but also joyful, because I lived close enough to give them assistance.
Since my family lives far away from me, I hope we can get a neighborhood village established in our neighborhood to help me and other older adults.
Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide
Glad you were able to help your parents as they aged. A neighborhood village sounds interesting and worthwhile. I’ve read more and more about these type of programs and they sound great.
Judi, I had no idea that every 67 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. That must be hard for all those who suffer from it and their loved ones. It is amazing that there are care givers who are dedicated to those who have this disease. They deserve a big round of applause for all they do!
Emily, yes it is something that our country’s healthcare providers and researchers need to focus on to help those in need with Alzheimer’s as it may be an epidemic once boomers age.
The role of a caregiver is one that I admire very much, especially as my parents have grown older. They insist they are still independent, but they often need help with day to day tasks, and helping them with these can be trying at times. However, the older generation cared for us when we were younger, so shouldn’t we care for them in their time of need?
Audrey, your words ring true regarding caregiving.
42 million!? Caregivers are that many in the US? I didn’t know about that.
Yes, it’s a big number.
I haven’t really sat and thought about how many caregivers there are in the U.S. I’ve been taking care of my grandmother for a few months now, but I’m worried that I may not be giving her the care that she needs. I’m hoping to find an elderly care center for her. Once I do, I’ll definitely make sure to stay very appreciative!
Wow, what a great list of resources for caregivers! My aunt is a caregiver for her mother in law, and it’s exhausting both physically and mentally for her. One thing that has helped tremendously is for her to take little vacations by herself. Thanks for a great article!
Thanks Veronica. Glad you found the information helpful.
Judi, that’s quite interesting to know that there’s a month dedicated to personal care for the elderly. Hearing something like sure has me thinking about my son who’s been wanting to get into a personal care services. His reason is mostly to help out those who are in need just like his uncle.
Thank you Andre. It’s an important cause.