November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to be especially kind to those who care for aging family members. Many of those who are family caregivers are boomer women, sandwiched between the needs of their parents and their own kids. They give, give, give to loved ones, while often sacrificing their own needs.
The Life Of A Family Caregiver
I’m familiar with the life of a family caregiver. I was a caregiver to my late husband during his illness. For many months, I visited him in the hospital each evening, driving a long distance after a full day of work, then home to make dinner for my son, leaving little time to rest, and start the routine all over again.
Shortly after my husband died, my sister N and I became more active caregivers to my mom. We were grateful that mom lived on her own for most of her senior years. Yet when she became ill at 89 and we had to give care from afar (since mom lived in Florida and N and I lived in the northeast), it became quite difficult. We decided it was best for mom to move into an assisted living environment where she would have the ongoing care she needed. As devoted daughters, moving my mom was a tough decision. We were glad mom thrived in her new home. She passed in her early 90s.
Being a family caregiver is a major commitment. Many of my friends who have aging parents tell me of their challenges. When their dad falls and breaks an ankle or hip, when their mom forgets to take her medicine due to dementia or Alzheimers, when they have to play the parent to their parents and take away driving privileges — so much debating and deciding ‘what should I do?’ issues pile on the family caregiver that their shoulders begin to weigh down.
How Can You Help?
The Ad Council and AARP have kicked off a program this month that is designed to encourage all Americans to perform an unexpected ‘Random Act of Kindness‘ for a caregiver. This nationwide movement is an effort to raise awareness of caregiving while at the same time reaching caregivers directly – rewarding them for their ongoing support.
The ask is simple – identify someone in your life or in your community who is serving as a caregiver and do something nice for them. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, just a small gesture that makes a caregiver’s life a little easier. For example, last month I invited my friend A to dinner. She works full-time at a demanding job and also cares for her aging dad. I treated her to a relaxing yoga session and reminded her that this evening was totally for her. She greatly appreciated the break.
The Ad Council and AARP are also asking that participants share their story at aarp.org/caregiverkindness. Simply submit a 150 word or less summary of how you made a caregiver feel special and a photo. All participants will be entered to win a cash prize from a $10,000 pot.
More Resources For Caregivers
AARP provides a tremendous amount of online resources for family caregivers on their Caregiving Resource Center. It’s really good information.
Forty million heroes are caregivers all hours of the day and night to their loved ones. It’s a crisis that is only going to grow larger as the baby boomer generation grows older. Reach out and show some kindness to a caregiver – even just listening to their story can make a difference.
Note: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Element Associates and Midlife Boulevard.