November is National Family Caregivers Month and an opportune time to recognize and honor family caregivers across North Carolina and our nation. There are more than 1.73 million family caregivers on any given day in North Carolina and 90 million across the United States providing exceptional care for parents, spouses, relatives, friends and children. As the number of older adults continues to grow, and rates of illness increase in older adults, more and more Americans are playing a critical role in caring for a loved one by providing assistance such as transportation, emotional support, meal preparation, housekeeping, bathing and dressing, medication management, wound care and financial assistance.
National Caregivers Month has been celebrated nationally each November since 1994, and the 2016 theme is “Take Care to Give Care.” Caregiving can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be physically and emotionally demanding. The first rule of taking care of others is for the caregiver to take care of themselves first. Only by taking care of themselves can the caregiver be strong enough to take care of a loved one. A caregiver truly does need to “take care to give care.”
Caregiving can be a stressful job. Most family caregivers say they feel stressed providing care for a loved one. With all of their caregiving responsibilities from managing medications, arranging doctor appointments, and planning meals, caregivers often put themselves last.
The stress of caregiving impacts your health. One out of five caregivers admits they have sacrificed their physical health while caring for a loved one. Due to stress, family caregivers have a disproportionate number of health and emotional problems. They are twice as likely to suffer depression and are at increased risk for many other chronic conditions.
Proper nutrition helps promote good health. Ensuring that you are getting proper nutrition is key to helping maintain your strength, energy and stamina, as well as strengthening your immune system. Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the most powerful things you can do to take care of yourself and keep a positive attitude overall.
Ensuring good nutrition for your loved one helps make care easier. As many as half of older adults are at risk for malnutrition. Good nutrition can help maintain muscle health, support recovery and reduce the risk for re-hospitalization-which may help make your care of a loved one easier.
Remember: “Rest. Recharge. Respite.” People think of respite as a luxury, but considering caregivers’ higher risk for health issues from chronic stress, those risks can be a lot costlier than some time away to recharge. The chance to take a breather, the opportunity to re-energize, is vital for you to be as good a caregiver tomorrow as you were today.
During National Family Caregivers Month,We remind family caregivers that to be strong enough to care for your loved one, you must
Take Care to Give Care!
Celebrating family caregivers during National Family Caregiver Month enables all of us to raise awareness of family caregiver issues, celebrate the efforts of family caregivers, educate family caregivers about self-identification and hopefully increases support for family caregivers.
Join us during the month of November as we recognize, celebrate and empower caregivers in our region and across our nation for their dedication and service caring for friends and family!
For additional information visit WPCOG Area Agency on Aging website: www.wpcogaaa.org or call The Family Caregiver Support Program at (828) 485-4256.
“Our Nation was founded on the fundamental ideal that we all do better when we look out for one another, and every day, millions of Americans from every walk of life balance their needs with those of their loved ones as caregivers.
This month and every month, let us lift up all those who work to tirelessly advance the health and wellness of those they love.” (President Barack Obama, Presidential Proclamation—National Family Caregivers Month, 2016)