I’d like to say a special heartfelt “thank you” to all the family caregivers out there — you know who you are. You are more than likely juggling your career, taking care of your children and/or grandchildren and providing care and oversight for your parents. Not an easy job, as you can attest. It can stress you out, wear you down and burn you out. It seems this can really come to light at Christmas time, because of the extra hustle and bustle of the season.
It is estimated that in the United States there are about 67 million caregivers that provide more than $450 billion per year in care. You do this with little support and minimal thanks. Just think how much more of a fiscal mess this country would be in if this care had to somehow be paid for and budgeted by the government-we would skydive off the fiscal cliff. In Iowa alone, it is estimated that roughly a third of our population cares for older adults.
So I’m talking to roughly the 918,600 of you wonderful care giving Iowans — be sure to take some time to take care of you during this wonderful, but hectic, Christmas season by following a few tips:
• Don’t be afraid to say no. You just can’t do it all. Healthy boundaries are important. Don’t feel guilty if you have to decline requests.
• Make some time for you. Whether it’s a cup of coffee with a friend, time alone with a good book or just a nice long hot bath, be sure to take a few minutes to recharge your batteries.
• Stressed out? Work out! It’s amazing what a brisk 15-minute walk can do to relieve stress. Exercise is a positive outlet for caregiver frustration.
• Ask for help. Now this might be the hardest for many of you, but chances are you have friends or family who would be more than willing to help you run that errand, wrap that gift or bring a hot dish to your family gathering. Don’t be afraid to ask, and graciously accept.
Merry Christmas, God bless you, and thank you for everything you do.
Information provided by Shelly Charter, Valley View Village, 2571 Guthrie Ave., Des Moines, 265-2571.