November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to celebrate the contributions of family caregivers and raise awareness that caregiving is a tough job. In America alone, over 53 million people are unpaid caregivers to family, friends, and neighbors, providing those in their care with groceries, clean homes, personal care, comfort, and more.
Caregiving often has a significant impact on the life of the caregiver. I learned this from my personal experience with becoming my mother’s legal guardian due to Alzheimer’s disease. I found myself in a position of making a lot of decisions, much of them all on my own. I was now juggling not only a full-time job and the responsibilities of being a mother and wife, but also this extremely time-consuming legal and caretaking effort.
I decided to help launch an employee resource group called CARES (Caregiver’s Alliance for Resources Education and Support), part of our Communities at NortonLifeLock, for people in similar situations; I serve as the CARES Champion. In addition to the day-to-day care – the prescriptions to refill, the doctor appointments to attend, the meals to prepare, and the baths to give – I had so many questions and almost no resources to answer them.
I knew I was not the only NortonLifeLock employee in this situation, as the aging population is living longer, and many people suffer from Dementia-related diseases. My hope is that the CARES group can rely on each other for support and guidance. If nothing else, I hope to show members caring for an aging parent or loved-one that they are not alone.
I’m glad family caregivers are recognized during National Family Caregivers Month. Recognition is vital to bring about the availability of more resources and opportunities for caregivers and to acknowledge the intense, exhausting, and unpaid work they take on. Here are two ways you can be part of National Family Caregivers Month:
- Get informed. The National Alliance for Caregiving has prepared resources to help family caregivers address and cope with the challenges of caring for a loved one. From taking care of your own health to learning to speak effectively with doctors, you can view or share their resources here.
- Get in touch. Did you know one out of every four caregivers report diminished family relationships because of caregiving for a loved one? Or that most caregivers work outside the home either part- or full-time in addition to their caregiving responsibilities? Your caregiving friends, colleagues, and family members need your support and you can begin educating yourself with this Caregiving Infographic.
One of the hardest parts about becoming a family caregiver is that there often isn’t a lot of warning. I was not prepared and the challenges I faced were both overwhelming and unexpected. It was a stressful time and I hope to help others feel more prepared by sharing my story and resources, so they don’t feel alone, and to ease the burden for the next person that has to go through this.
To learn more about family caregiving and National Family Caregivers Month visit https://www.caregiving.org/
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