Caregivers often work quietly behind the scenes. Their motivation isn’t driven by recognition, but rather the desire to help those they love the most. National Family Caregivers month provides an opportunity to show appreciation and support for the impact their efforts have on the lives of millions across the country.
Learn About National Family Caregivers Month
If you’re not familiar with National Family Caregivers Month, it’s celebrated the entire month of November each year to show appreciation and raise awareness about the critical role caregivers play in our society. Thanks to a 1997 presidential proclamation that formally recognized the holiday month, it’s continued to grow in prominence ever since.
Currently in the United States, more than 1 in 5 individuals act as caregivers to an adult or child with special needs, according to a survey from the AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving. Those figures are still on the rise, totaling up to an estimated 53 million caregivers across the country. With such high numbers, National Family Caregivers Month provides the perfect opportunity to raise awareness, increase support and recognize their efforts.
4 Common Challenges Faced by Caregivers
While caregiving can be highly rewarding, it does come with sacrifices as well. More than likely, caregivers would be the last people to tell you about the difficulties they face. To better understand what they’re going through, here are some of the common challenges they face.
1. No Formal Training
In many cases, caregiving doesn’t provide much time for planning. Instead, family members, friends or community members take on the role out of necessity. While honorable and appreciated, it’s rare for those who find themselves acting as a caregiver to have any formal training or experience in healthcare or other related fields. This leaves them to find their way on their own. Making critical decisions that impact the lives and well-being of loved ones can be immensely stressful.
2. Loneliness and Isolation
Acting as a caregiver is often very time consuming. This means caregivers find themselves with less time to spend on themselves and their family. Whether it’s skipping the school play or not being home for nightly dinners, many end up sacrificing the activities they enjoy the most, leading to feelings of loneliness or isolation. Over time, this can result in increased anxiety and depression.
3. Financial Difficulties
Though we often think of the contributions of caregivers in time and energy, there’s a significant financial component as well. A 2021 study from the AARP discovered the average family caregiver spends 26% of their income on caregiving activities. Some of the most frequently cited expenses include housing costs and medical bills. With more than a quarter of personal income going toward care, it can result in financial setbacks that have long-term impacts on things like savings or retirement contributions.
4. Caregiver Burnout
When all of these factors start to build up it can result in a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion known as caregiver burnout. It can be difficult for a caregiver to recognize they’re suffering from this condition as they keep working to put one foot in front of the other, so here are some some of the common signs associated with caregiver burnout:
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Weight loss, weight gain and changes in appetite
- Feelings of sadness, irritability or hopelessness
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
How to Show Support for Caregivers
Showing support and appreciation for the caregivers in your life doesn’t have to be elaborate or time consuming. There are many simple gestures you can make that have a significant impact. Here are some suggestions for National Family Caregivers Month and beyond.
Find Ways to Contribute
The gift of time is one of the greatest things you can offer a caregiver. If there are areas of daily life they’re struggling to keep up with, look for opportunities to contribute and lend a helping hand. This could include household chores, running errands, making meals or babysitting the kids. Make sure to support how they want to use their time, whether it’s catching up on work or enjoying a relaxing spa day.
Stop and Listen
In many cases caregivers don’t have the same social outlets due to the demands of their responsibilities. Sometimes just having the opportunity to unburden to a trusted friend or family member provides substantial stress relief. Instead of seeking solutions or trying to resolve their issues, just sit back and actively listen.
Remind Them You’re There
When we stop seeing people as frequently, it’s not uncommon for the typical social courtesies to fall by the wayside. Unfortunately, feelings of isolation and loneliness are some of the most common challenges faced by caregivers. Even if you don’t have time to go to the movies or grab a drink, think of ways you can reach out and maintain that connection. Something as simple as an encouraging text message or friendly note reminds caregivers they’re not alone and they have a reliable network standing behind them.
Most caregivers don’t take on the role for praise or recognition. In fact, many caregivers don’t think they’re doing anything extraordinary, just what’s right. Celebrating caregivers doesn’t have to be about the work they do day-to-day. Consider other opportunities or important milestones in life and make sure they don’t pass by unnoticed. Try sending flowers or treating them to takeout for occasions like birthdays or anniversaries.
Respite Care at The Waterford
Despite their best efforts, sometimes balancing everyday life and the duties of caregiving can just be too much to keep up with for one person. Luckily, the respite care options available from The Waterford can provide relief and support for all parties involved.
Respite care is a temporary care option that offers a brief reprieve for the primary caregiver. Loved ones stay in our Juno Beach, Florida community starting at a minimum of seven days, and have access to professional care and health services around the clock. Additionally, guests enjoy all of the same community life amenities available to full-time residents. This includes everything from the gorgeous dining venues to the fitness center and library.
If respite care sounds like it might be a good option to meet your needs or those of a loved one, our friendly team is here to answer any questions you have. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch or schedule a visit to our Palm Beach area community.