November is National Family Caregivers Month. Here at Arcadia New England, we are particularly aware of the tremendous dedication, devotion and tenacity every single person who is a family caregiver must put forward, day in and day out. The pressures and challenges that our family caregivers face are tremendous, and we thank them for their commitment and unyielding care of their loved one!
“Across America, daughters and sons balance the work of caring for aging parents with the demands of their careers and raising their own children. Spouses and partners become caregivers to the ones they love even as they navigate their own health challenges… All of them give selflessly to bring comfort, social engagement, and stability to those they love. National Family Caregivers Month is a time to reflect on the compassion and dedication that family caregivers embody every day. As we offer our appreciation and admiration for their difficult work, let us also extend our own offers of support to them and their loved ones.”— Former President Barack Obama’s Proclamation in 2012
Sometimes, Acknowledgement Makes All the Difference
If there is a family caregiver in your life, beit someone in your direct family or someone that you interact with through work or social activities, take some time this month to stop and let them know that their efforts make a difference. Acknowledge that you realize how challenging balancing it all must be. So often, simply hearing some recognition for our hard work, and empathy for our feelings, can make all the difference. Everyone needs appreciation! If you are able, ask them how you can help them. Caregivers are usually people who put others first, and find it difficult to ask for or accept assistance. So don’t take no for an answer, offer your services to run some errands, make a meal, or take a chore off their shoulders. These small activities can make a world of difference to a busy caregiver!
As we are entering the gift-giving season, how else might you show your appreciation for a family caregiver in your life? We thought we’d put together a Gift Guide of items (not all are things you have to buy!) that will really be something they want:
6 Gifts Caregivers Really Need
Busy caregivers rarely give themselves time to just relax. Time off is spent catching up with their own needs and errands, and because so many caregivers put their own money into their family member in need, they don’t tend to spend on themselves for “unnecessary” items. However, if you foot the bill for a massage, manicure, or other type of self-care session, how can they refuse? You could also put together a gift basket of relaxation items such as bath salts and lotions. White noise and nature sounds can calm the mind and drown out noises, so how about a sound machine or CD of relaxation and meditation tracks to help them calm their mind. For when they do have a chance to sit down, chair heater/massage pads can feel wonderful for a tired caregiver. Light Therapy lamps or fun mood lighting can also offer something relaxing. Perhaps movie tickets and a dinner gift certificate, or passes to the botanical gardens, whatever your caregiver is interested in.
- Gift Certificates for massage or other self-care session
- Gift Baskets of relaxation items
- Sound machine or meditation CDs
- Chair massage pad
- Light therapy or mood lamp
- Tickets to the movies, theatre or other activity
Although they probably won’t admit it, every caregiver dreams of some time off, free of their responsibilities. Many caregivers are 24/7, and that can be debilitating as well as exhausting. Take some time off and offer to cover for them. If you are not comfortable providing care by yourself, arrange for some professional care coverage. You can be on hand to assist and ensure everything is going well. Letting the family caregiver get away for an afternoon, a day, or even a vacation is a tremendous gift!
- Take time off to cover them
- Arrange for professional caregiving services
- Give the caregiver a true break from their responsibilities
Being a family caregiver is not only challenging emotionally and physically, but can be draining financially. Many caregivers drain their own personal savings to pay for the needs of their family member. Help however you can. Again, as most caregivers refuse assistance and decline any “handouts”, be assertive and pay for a utility bill, monthly fee they might have to pay, or buy something they need outright so they have to take your help.
- Offer financial assistance
- Pay for a monthly bill or fee
- Purchase an item outright
Finding time to grocery shop and cook is time consuming in itself. It takes a lot of energy to meal plan healthy meals. Many caregivers would greatly appreciate a prepared meal being delivered. You can certainly take the reins and prepare a meal yourself, but there are also a lot of meal delivery services available now too. If you have the meal items delivered, show up to prepare the meal and stay to share it with them!
- Bring over a prepared meal
- Order a meal delivery service
- Come prepare the delivered meals
Child or Pet Care
When someone is looking out for a loved one needing care, it is very difficult to also have the time and energy to juggle all the mom duties for children and fur babies. Offer to pick the kids up after school, do sports practice transportation one day a week, or offer to walk the dog once in a while. These gestures might give the caregiver the timeout from constant responsibility they need and relieve a pressure point.
- Offer to babysit
- Do some of the transportation for children’s activities
- Walk the dog or pet sit
Quality Time For Family Caregivers
Don’t underestimate how isolating and lonely caregiving can be. Caring for someone in an ongoing basis means canceling previous engagements and social activities. After a while, people stop visiting for fear of interrupting, coming at a bad time, or simply because they are uncomfortable. Caregivers rarely realize how separated they have become from “the real world”. Either schedule a time to simply come for a visit, or knock on the door with a pizza and bottle of wine and insist on coming in to eat it all together. We promise, this gesture will make a hard day easier!
How Arcadia New England Can Help
At Arcadia our mission is to help individuals remain independent in the comfort of their own homes, and receive the help and care they need. Our fully screened and trained staff are ready to assist with medical care, personal care, and companionship needs. Let us take the worry of care off your shoulders and help you with your loved one’s care needs!