It's November. (I know, what would you do without me?). Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Medicare Open enrollment--somehow they all run together when you're in the biz of social services.
In the midst of being thankful to a lot of people, family and friends, there's also a recognition this month of a particular set that lives and cares and gives of themselves on a daily basis.
November is also National Family Caregiver month. Last year the presidential proclamation declaring it so noted that at that time over 60 million of us were providing assistance for one or more family members---and approximately 75% of these are unpaid caregivers. This year, the number is over 65 million.
Not only hasn't the number decreased, from all indications, it will not. Rosalyn Carter has said "There are four kinds of people: those who will become caregivers, those who are caregivers, those who were caregivers, and those who will need caregiving themselves." Indeed. Declining health, depression, exhaustion often enter into a family caregiver scenario as sleep, hobbies and other outside activities decrease. And, most of the time, family members don't give it a thought. Love doesn't look for an out, love just plain cares. Statistics are interesting sometimes, and they do demonstrate how wide-spread this is, how many lives are impacted, and so on. What at times is less emphasized are the benefits that can occur.
For one thing, whoever is receiving care, usually gets to stay home--or at least around family. I've heard of relationships improving during a time such as this, as more time one-on-one is spent in close quarters. Some folks have "rediscovered" who Mom or Dad is. And learned more about their individual lives. Appreciation can also flow both ways.
Even considering the above, caregiving does take time. Unless there's some new breakthrough in physics I'm not aware of, we can't really add time to the day. 24 hours is what we get, and if part of that in the past was for "just me", it probably won't remain that way. Changes come and some things have to go by the wayside.
Caregiving also takes energy. This is where some problems can arise, since--like time--we only have so much energy. Caregivers (who don't really think of themselves as such) give and give and give. After all, it's family. Unfortunately, these same giving people tend to eventually run out of reserves and burn out appears as more than just a figure of speech.
It's due to this that SUPPORT is available for family caregivers. We need you to stay as healthy as possible so you can keep doing what you do.
Our Family Caregiver SUPPORT Program does just that. Some of the services provided for eligible caregivers have included respite, counseling, information, gym membership dues, lending libraries and more. The goal is to SUPPORT the caregiver--you don't have to walk through this alone.
Give us a call at either of the numbers listed below and we'll make the connections for you. You can also go to www.o3a.org and hit the link "Resources for Caregivers." Our journey together can begin there.
Information & Assistance Long Beach: 642 3634/888 571 6558 Raymond: 942 2177/888 571 6557 - www.o3a.org