Whether they’re a family member, close friend or trusted neighbor, caregivers play a critical role in the day-to-day lives of millions across the country. While they may not always get the recognition they deserve, National Family Caregivers Month puts caregivers in the spotlight and provides an opportunity to offer gratitude and respect.
National Family Caregivers Month
Celebrated the entire month of November, National Family Caregivers Month honors those who dedicate their time and energy to the care of others. Though promotion began in 1994, the month was formally recognized with a presidential proclamation in 1997 and has continued to grow ever since.
Because many caregivers quietly offer their assistance, you might be surprised to learn that a 2020 study from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP found more than 1 in 5 Americans act as caregivers for adults or children with special needs. That totals up to an estimated 53 million adult caregivers in the United States. With such significant numbers, it makes the role of National Family Caregivers Month all the more important in raising awareness and increasing support for caregivers.
Challenges of Being a Caregiver
When a loved one needs help, most people don’t hesitate to jump in and offer support in any way they can. Though acting as a caregiver can be extremely rewarding, it also comes with its fair share of demands. These are some of the common challenges faced by caregivers.
Lack of Experience or Training
In many cases caregivers end up in the role due to necessity. Without any formal training or experience, they are left to navigate the challenges with limited resources. This can become especially stressful when making decisions that have significant impacts on the wellbeing of loved ones.
Beyond a lack of training resources, many caregivers also experience significant financial strains from the role. In fact, another recent report rom the AARP determined nearly 8 in 10 caregivers report having routine out-of-pocket expenses related to looking after their loved ones. On average, this amounts to $7,242 annually. These additional expenses can make it challenging for caregivers to get ahead and meet financial goals in their own lives.
We all enjoy the opportunity to spend time with loved ones, but when their needs are urgent or require regular supervision it can start to cut into already limited personal time. Many caregivers find themselves having to sacrifice attending children’s school events or gathering with friends. As these additional social opportunities become limited, feelings of isolation tend to increase. This can lead to anxiety, depression and general loneliness.
When the stresses start to add up, it can become overwhelming and lead to a condition known as caregiver burnout. This becomes especially detrimental to all parties involved, resulting in both the caregiver and their loved one not getting adequate care. Some of the hallmark signs of caregiver burnout include:
- Emotional and physical exhaustion
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Increased feelings of irritability, sadness or hopelessness
How to Support and Appreciate the Caregiver in Your Life
Despite the challenges that come with caregiving, it’s certainly not all doom and gloom. National Family Caregivers Month is all about showing appreciation to those who make personal sacrifices to support loved ones. If you have a caregiver that makes a difference in your life, here are some suggestions of ways to show your support.
Sometimes the most simple gesture can also be the most meaningful. While our instincts are often to act as problem solvers, take the time to just listen to what the caregivers in your life are going through. Acting as a sounding board can help relieve tension and stress, providing an opportunity to vent and recharge. With the demands caregivers already have on their time, make sure they know you’re available on their schedule and they don’t need to go out of their way.
Lend a Hand
Caregiving can be extremely personal, and it might be difficult for you to help with the day-to-day caregiving tasks. However, there are plenty of ways you can lend a hand to caregivers themselves. Whether that’s offering to pick up the kids from soccer practice or making a meal one night a week, these small acts of kindness add up.
Let Them Know You Care
If the caregivers in your life aren’t nearby, you can still make a difference by letting them know they’re appreciated. Getting a surprise postcard in the mail or a thoughtful text can turn the tide on an otherwise overwhelming day. Make it a point to take time for regular check-ins that only cost you a few minutes, but have a significant impact on the lives of others.
Remember Special Occasions
Caregivers make many personal sacrifices, which can include birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. In some cases they might be so invested in their responsibilities that they forget these important dates altogether. Take the initiative and make sure these special occasions don’t slip by unnoticed. When you invest so much of your life in the care of others, it means a lot to know there are loved ones who would do the same for you.
Respite Care Options at Querencia
One often overlooked option that can provide relief to caregivers is respite care. Temporary in nature, it offers caregivers an opportunity to rest and recharge while loved ones receive the professional care they need.
At Querencia, respite care starts with a minimum seven-day commitment. During their stay, guests enjoy access to the same health services and community life amenities available to full-time residents. This includes everything from our carefully crafted dining menus to swimming pools and yoga classes. Even better, guests have access to around-the-clock professional care catered to their needs.
If you or someone in your life is feeling the strain of caregiving, the respite care options at Querencia may be just what you’re looking for. We’re conveniently located in the Austin, Texas area, and our friendly, compassionate team is here to help you every step of the way. Please don’t hesitate to contact us and get the conversation started.