The NHC is Celebrating National Family Caregivers Month!
By: Marvell Adams, Jr., CEO, Caregiver Action Network
November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to recognize, honor, and raise awareness of family caregivers across the country. Caregiving can happen to anyone. It may start slowly when you visit your parents and realize they need help. You may take on more responsibility gradually as your mom’s dementia progresses and she needs more assistance with daily activities of living, or it may start suddenly when your grandma slips on the ice and breaks her leg.
Regardless of how your caregiving journey began, who you’re caring for, or why, caregiving can be rewarding, but it can also bring feelings of stress and isolation. Stress from caregiving can make you feel tense, angry, anxious, depressed, irritable, or frustrated. You may feel as though nobody understands what you’re going through.
For the Caregivers Action Network (CAN), this year’s theme for National Family Caregivers Month, #CaregiversConnect, highlights the many ways that caregivers connect and how important those connections are to combat that isolation. The campaign reflects your reality that when #CaregiversConnect, whether it’s for support, to get information, or just to talk to someone who understands what you’re going through, it can help you feel less isolated. You are not alone.
You may start talking to another caregiver in the waiting room at the oncologist’s office and learn about a new clinical trial that might be good for your loved one. You might connect with your mom’s neurologist through a Zoom call to talk about her dementia. In a staff meeting at work, you could connect with your co-worker and share experiences about balancing work and caregiving. Caregivers connect with their loved ones to see how they’re doing — whether in person or virtually — or to look at photos from a family trip you took years ago. You may even connect with someone who can point you toward helpful resources by contacting CAN’s Caregiver Help Desk or attending a support group.
I believe that #CaregiversConnect shows how important it is for caregivers to connect. Whether it’s with other caregivers, in a support group, at church, through a helpline, or with their loved one, these connections can help caregivers feel less isolated and alone.
During this time of year, families often come together to celebrate the holidays. If you’re a long-distance caregiver, you may be connecting with a loved one you haven’t seen in a while. This can be a good time to hold a family meeting to share information on the latest report from your loved one’s doctor. These meetings are an opportunity to discuss your loved one’s daily caregiving needs, what support the primary caregiver needs, and if there are any financial concerns.
Other Helpful Resources from Caregiver Action Network
- Ten Tips for Family Caregivers
- Caregiver Help Desk offers free support to family caregivers. The Help Desk is available by phone, chat, or e-mail. It is staffed by caregiving experts who can provide information, answer questions, or just be there to listen.
- The Family Caregiver Toolbox is one of the go-to resources on CAN’s website. In the toolbox you can find information for different types of caregivers, the basics of caregiving, ways to stay strong while caregiving, and a section broken down by different diseases or conditions.
- Caregiving can be stressful, and stress can lead to depression and anxiety — which, if left unaddressed, can end in burnout. If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of depression or another mental health condition, this Mental Health Screener can help.
- CAN has a new community on Facebook where family caregivers can connect with other caregivers, share their stories, and get and receive advice. Click here to join.