November is National Family Caregiver Month.
The full-time caregivers who take care of the chronically ill or elderly, to the exclusion of most everything else, are true angels. Many must leave their jobs and gamble with their own financial security. Depression and a sense of isolation are common to full-time caregivers. When speaking of health care reform, this is a large group of individuals who need to be recognized. We must do all we can to support these kind souls who sacrifice so much for the benefit of others.
I don't need a full-time caregiver, but I do depend on other people. My husband has difficulty with the caregiver label because it's not something that he needs to concern himself with around the clock. But he has had to make major life changes in order to accommodate my multiple sclerosis.
He has tailored his career so that he doesn't have a long commute or extensive travel. He takes on the lion's share of the big chores in and around our home. He makes the effort to stay plugged in and up-to-date with my health issues. When I can't completely fend for myself he is there to drive me to work and to physically assist me however necessary. He lives on the same roller coaster ride of constant change that I do, but he must remain the strong one.
My grown children don't live nearby. They view my MS through a very different lens but, in some ways, they are my caregivers as well. They have made many concessions to MS, without a moment's hesitation or regret. Their understanding and thoughtfulness gives me strength. Extended family, co-workers, and friends near and far all play a minor caregiving role. Thank you, one and all.
Whether you have a 24/7 caregiver, or just someone who cares, make some time to take care of the caregiver. Ask them how they're doing. Listen without judgement and let them talk about their frustrations. Help them find answers to caregiving dilemmas, and to find the support they need. Never let yourself forget that they have responsibilities, as well as hopes and dreams, outside of their caregiving duties.
Have you hugged your caregiver today? I have.
Top 10 Ways to Celebrate National Family Caregivers Month 2008
Published On: November 17, 2008