Giving Thanks to Family Caregivers


In honor of November being National Family Caregivers Month, I've written about the role that caregiving plays in our society. In "A Month to Honor Family Caregivers," I reinforced what it was like to care for my mom as she aged and why I am so grateful for all the little things I can do each day, things that I used to often take for granted.

Last week, in recognition of November National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, I shared some staggering statistics about this debilitating disease and its impact on family caregivers. Sadly, every 67 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

A Celebration of Caregiving Event
On Friday, I attended "A Celebration of Caregiving Event" at Rutgers University in Camden, N.J. The event, sponsored by AARP New Jersey, was attended by many local caregivers who told their stories of caring for their moms, dads, aunts, uncles and elderly neighbors.

Jim Dieterle, AARP New Jersey State Director, quoted former first lady Rosalynn Carter when he spoke about the lifecycle of caregiving: "Mrs. Carter said there are four kinds of people in the world: Those who have been caregivers. Those who are caregivers. Those who will be caregivers. Those who will need caregivers."

It's a reminder that the role of the caregiver is bigger and broader than we may realize.

National Family Caregivers Month
Since this week is Thanksgiving and a time for family gatherings, I'm pleased to partner with fellow midlife bloggers at Midlife Boulevard to bring you additional public service information about National Family Caregivers Month.

Where are you in your life cycle of caregiving? Even if you are not presently a caregiver, I bet as a boomer girl that you know one (or more) of the more than 42 million caregivers in the United States who provide an estimated $450 billion worth of unpaid care to aging relatives and friends. Be sure to reach out to these caregivers and thank them for all that they do. Offer them assistance if they need help. Be there to listen to them when they need a sounding board or shoulder to cry on. Juggling the demands of caregiving can be very stressful.

Resources for Caregivers
I applaud the new public service announcements from AARP and the Ad Council. The ads illustrate the changing roles of parents and children through the years. Have you seen these ads? Check them out Caregiver Assistance Spoon and Caregiver Assistance Bath. Let me know what you think. Do they strike a chord with you like they did with me?

AARP has also created a community of experts and other caregivers to help at aarp.org/caregiving. You can find great resources including:

Prepare to Care. This booklet provides a comprehensive caregiving planning guide for families, with a general needs assessment and personal and health checklist, a medication guide and financial and benefits toolkit.

2 Resources Every Caregiver Should Know About. This is a handy list of support, services and tips for caregivers such as links to the Social Security administration, Medicare and an eldercare locator.

Juggling Work and Caregiving. Download this free e-book written by Amy Goyer, an expert on aging and families.

10 Tips for Caregivers During the Holidays. These helpful hints offer ways to handle the stress of caregiving during this festive season.

Share Your Caregiving Story

At Friday's AARP New Jersey event, Melita Jordan, CNM, MSN, APRN C, Director of Chronic Disease Prevention and Control of Family Health Services , New Jersey Department of Health, spoke eloquently about caregiving for her mom who has Alzheimer's disease. "Mom cared for me when I couldn't care for myself," she said. "Now it's time to care for my loved one.

"It's important to tell the stories. The fun ones. The sad ones. Your stories may help others care for someone else."

This month AARP is sharing caregiver stories on its I Heart Caregivers website.

As I cherish time with my loved ones this week, there will be a special place in my heart for my late hubby M. Thanksgiving was one of his favorite holidays, and I'm glad I can carry on his tradition as host of our family's turkey day.

Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving!

This post originally appeared on aboomerslifeafter50.com.

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