A: November is National Family Caregivers Month as well as National Hospice Month. With two of every five adults caring for a loved one who is sick or disabled, it’s an ideal time to reach out with support for those living with serious or chronic illnesses.
Caregiving is a tremendous responsibility. While most family caregivers find the experience emotionally rewarding, many also report they felt taxed both emotionally and physically. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, caregivers report sleep deprivation, poor eating habits and are less likely to exercise, stay in bed when ill or make it to their own medical appointments. This emotional toll on the caregiver’s psyche, the physical demands of providing care and the day-to-day demands on time and resources can lead to stress.
Friends often ask caregivers if there is anything they can do to help, yet how often do caregivers take them up on the offer? If you’re asked, consider saying, “As a matter of fact, there is something you could do.” Then, ask your friends to choose from a prepared list of tasks, such as shopping, errands, sitting with your loved one, writing thank you notes for you, doing yard work or walking the dog.
If you’re not sure whether you could benefit from additional support, call a trusted community care service and ask questions. You’ll feel more in control and more empowered as a caregiver.
Information provided by Abi Albrecht, LMSW, team director, HCI Hospice Care Services of Central Iowa, 402 12th St., Perry, (515) 465-4705, www.hcicareservices.org.