COPD Caregiver Perspectives - Finding Resources for Support
Being a caregiver for someone with COPD can be a long, hard road. Although COPD is an incurable illness, it doesn't claim its victims quickly. People with COPD, even end-stage COPD, often live for years in a gradually deteriorating condition. While enduring a chronic illness is certainly roughest on the patient, it's no cake walk for the caregiver either.
As we've discussed in previous posts in this series, it's tough to watch someone you love go through a battle with COPD. But it's also a physical and emotional drain on the caregiver to bear the responsibility of caregiving for such a long time. Family caregiving requires you to constantly juggle your work demands and family needs and wants, while maintaining your own independence. Not easy.
Unfortunately, the very nature of family caregiving can also be isolating. Over time, your role as caregiver can overshadow your other roles in life and friends and even other family members can begin to drift away.
The important thing to realize, though, is that you don't have to go it alone. There are resources that can and will offer support to you on this caregiving journey.
Messages to Live By
The National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) has proposed 4 main messages to live by for family caregivers. They are:
- Believe in yourself, but recognize your limitations along with your strengths.
- Protect your physical & emotional health and well being, so that you can continue to be there for your family.
- Reach out and ask for help -- it's a sign of strength, not weakness.
- Advocate both for yourself and your loved one by being as knowledgeable as possible about COPD and caregiving.
Some Caregiving Resources
Here are a few online caregiving resources you might find helpful in the coming weeks, months and years. Visit these websites to find both support and information on caregiving that could prove invaluable to you.
National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) -- This organization educates, supports, empowers and speaks up for the more than 65 million Americans who care for loved ones with a chronic illness or disability or the frailties of old age. They offer a number of downloadable tips and how-to guides, as well as several ways to connect with other caregivers. You could spend days exploring everything they have available. http://www.nfcacares.org/index.cfm
Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) -- Founded in 1977, this organization offers programs at national, state and local levels to support and sustain caregivers. They are also a public voice for caregivers, illuminating the daily challenges they face, offering them the assistance they so desperately need and deserve, and championing their cause through education, services, research and advocacy.
Well Spouse Association -- This organization is for one particular type of family caregiver, the spouse. They offer emotional peer-to-peer support to the wives, husbands, and partners of the chronically ill and/or disabled. This community of spousal caregivers understand the daily trials and challenges of being a spousal caregiver. Support is available through their online forums and more.
Remember... by taking advantage of even just one of these resources, you are affirming that you matter... and that's OK.