How to Care for the Caregivers in Your Life
By Megan Morrow
Published November 1, 2018
November is home to National Caregivers Month
, an annual observance that acknowledges the important and difficult work that family caregivers perform. National Caregivers Month provides an opportunity to raise awareness and offer education, while also celebrating the work of family caregivers, aiming to increase support for the important role they play.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 41.3 million caregivers provide unpaid eldercare, while more attend to other relatives and friends, with an economic value of $470 billion (AARP). Caregivers perform a variety of services from simple companionship to medical support, housework, errands and more.
If someone you care for serves as a caregiver to someone else, whether part- or full-time, they could likely use some appreciation and self-care of their own. The following tips can help you support someone during National Caregivers Month.
- Check in and communicate regularly. Ask “How are you doing?” and listen carefully for the answer. Let the caregivers in your life know that you are available to talk, listen and offer support.
- Offer specific help. If your friend, family member or colleague is supporting someone you know, offer to step in for a couple of hours. If you do not know the person, you can still make a meal, deliver a book or plant, or donate to the individual’s recovery or healthcare expenses. Sometimes, specific offers of help (“I can do your mom’s taxes” or “I would be happy to make dinner tomorrow”) are more helpful than vague suggestions.
- Look for signs of stress. If a caregiver in your life seems overwhelmed, exhausted, is gaining or losing weight, mentions frequent headaches or difficulty sleeping, or has simply changed in a noticeable or concerning way, pay attention. While caregiving can be rewarding, it is also incredibly stressful, and caregivers often need specific care of their own, whether it is a week off, more time outside, healthy meals, a support group or a therapist.
- Get together. Caregivers are often immersed in their work and simply trying to keep up with life’s basic demands—eating, sleeping, working or paying the bills. While time is at a premium, you can suggest doing something your loved one enjoys, including seeing a movie, eating a meal or taking a walk.
In addition to the social, emotional and physical support that you can supply as a concerned friend or family member, health care aides can provide occasional in-home respite, as can adult care centers and programs. Caregivers who work outside the home (most do), are covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for family. At times, caregivers need to be reminded or made aware of options that can help them take better care of themselves, even as they care for others.
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The material presented here is for information purposes only and is not to be considered an offer to buy or sell any security. This report was prepared from sources believed to be reliable but it is not guaranteed as to accuracy and it is not a complete summary of statement of all available data. Information and opinions are current up to the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. The purchase and sale of securities should be conducted on an individual basis considering the risk tolerance and investment objective of each investor and with the advice and counsel of a professional advisor. The opinions expressed by Ms. Morrow are strictly her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Herbert J. Sims & Co., Inc. or their affiliates. This is not a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell any particular investment. All investment involves risk and may result in a loss of principal. Investors should carefully consider their own circumstances before making any investment decision.