Over 65 million Americans are recognized during National Family Caregivers Month. Sponsored each year by the Caregiver Action Network (CAN), National Family Caregivers Month focuses on the challenges facing family caregivers, and what those who are not current caregivers can do to help alleviate some of the responsibility a caregiver faces on a daily basis.
Family caregivers provide a wide range of emotional, financial, nursing, social, homemaking and other services – the estimated value of the care they provide is around 306 billion dollars on an annual basis. More than 15 million Americans have assumed the role of a caregiver for a family member or loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease. No two people experience Alzheimer’s alike. Caregivers for someone with Alzheimer’s have a responsibility to change along with their loved ones, adjusting their expectations of the person and learning how to communicate with and care for them. The level of involvement in caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease varies greatly depending on the stage of the disease and the severity of the symptoms present in the individual. Anyone could suddenly find themselves in a caregiving role. Unless you have been a caregiver in the past, it is almost impossible to understand what a caregiver experiences on a daily basis.
The National Family Caregiver Association has listed suggestions for people to consider for National Caregivers Month.
1. Offer a few hours of respite time (a break) to a family caregiver so they can spend time with friends, or simply relax.
2. Send a card of appreciation or a bouquet of flowers to brighten a family caregiver’s day.
3. Encourage local businesses to offer a free service for family caregivers through the month of November.
4. Help a family caregiver decorate their home for the holidays or offer to address envelopes for their holiday cards.
5. Offer comic relief! Purchase tickets to a local comedy club, give a family caregiver your favorite funny movie to view, or provide them with a book on tape.
6. Find 12 different photos of the caregiver’s family and friends. Have a copy center create a 2008 calendar that the family caregiver can use to keep track of appointments and events.
7. Offer to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for a caregiving family in your community, so they can just relax and enjoy the holiday.
8. Offer to hold a fundraiser to help supplement out-of-pocket caregiving expenses.
9. Recognize that family caregivers are usually managing all health-care situations for their loved one. Offer to help organize their records and activities perhaps in ways they might not be familiar with, such as setting up computerized charts, lists etc.
10. Help a family caregiver find new educational resources and support through volunteer respite organizations, such as REST (Respite Education and Support Tools), family caregiving web sites or by calling local social service agencies for help
We should all hope that should the need arise someone will care enough about us to take on the responsibility of becoming our caregiver.
To all the caregivers out there, thank you for all you do!
For more information on caregiving for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease, visit http://www.alz.org/care/overview.asp
and to learn more about National Family Caregiving Month and for additional resources and information, visit http://www.caregiveraction.org/