November is designated as National Family Caregivers Month. It is a time to recognize and salute family caregivers across the country — for their dedication, hard work and self-sacrifice. This year’s theme is “Caregiving Around the Clock.”
President Clinton signed the first National Family Caregivers Month Presidential Proclamation in 1997. Since then, every President has followed suit by issuing an annual proclamation recognizing and honoring family caregivers in November.
This month gives us the opportunity to:
- raise awareness of family caregiver issues,
- celebrate the efforts of family caregivers,
- educate family caregivers about self-identification, and
- increase support for family caregivers.
November: Caregiving Is Stressful
Caregiving is a 24 hours a day job. You’re always on call. The fact is that it’s a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week job — and it comes with a high level of stress. Providing care around the clock crowds out many other important areas of life. This is especially true if you’re caring for a parent or grandparent.
What challenges do family caregivers face, and how do they manage them day and night?
A typical day might look like this:
Throughout the day, up to 70 percent of the time, the caregiver is managing medications.
They’re responsible for making sure the patient is taking the right medication at the correct time. They also must keep the medication list up to date, ensuring their loved one is taking the medication correctly and maintaining an up-to-date medication list.
Keep in mind that 6 out of 10 family caregivers work full or part time in addition to their responsibilities at home. For many, this is an overwhelming burden and they either take a leave of absence, or quit their job entirely.
In the evening, caregivers grab some quality time with their own families. Nutrition and a healthy diet is important it helps maintain strength, energy, stamina and a positive attitude.
The middle of the night can be a busy time as the patient may need to get to the emergency room immediately. An overnight bag with essentials and medications should always be packed and ready.
Caregiver stress is the emotional strain of caregiving. Studies show that it takes a toll on physical and emotional health. They are more likely to suffer from depression than their peers. Limited research suggests that they may also be more likely to have health problems like diabetes and heart disease than non-caregivers.
Caregivers often report that’s difficult to look after their own health in terms of exercise, nutrition, and doctor’s visits. Oftentimes, they end up feeling angry, anxious, isolated, and sad.
Caring for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients is particular stressful. Research studies show that these caregivers, in particular, suffer from depression and stress.
And, it’s good to know that superb caregiving is also the hallmark of certain skilled nursing facilities. Families can be confident that their loved one is getting the highest level of care 24/7.
So this November, stand up and salute the dedicated caregivers that provide selfless and dedicated service.