By Catherine Walsh, Marketing Communications, Intercity Home Care
November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and it’s also National Family Caregivers Month. As we acknowledge both of these important issues, it’s worth taking a few moments to reflect on this year’s theme for National Family Caregivers Month: “Take Care to Give Care.”
The first rule of taking care of others: take care of yourself first. Caregiving can be a rewarding experience, but it is also physically and emotionally demanding. As a family caregiver, remember to pay attention to your own physical and mental wellness, and get proper rest and nutrition. Only by taking care of yourself can you be strong enough to take care of your loved one. You really do need to “take care to give care!” (Excerpt taken from Caregiver Action Network at www.caregiveraction.org)
We can well imagine the moans and groans of caregivers who are wondering how they will find time to take care of themselves first. But take heart, there are resources available to help and systems, that once in place can free up time and open space for a bit of rest…maybe even a respite, for the caregiver.
According to a recent AARP study, family caregivers in Massachusetts provided 786 million hours of care—worth an estimated $11.6 billion—in 2013. In their newly released report, Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update, AARP Public Policy Institute estimated the economic value of uncompensated care provided by the nation’s family caregivers surpassed total Medicaid spending ($449 billion). (Excerpt taken from AARP.org)
Maybe there is some comfort in knowing you’re not alone. But it may be even more comforting to know there are many resources available to help the caregiver. Though it is often difficult to ask for help, we pay a terrible price with our own health and happiness when we go it alone. Instead, consider creating a team to be your own support network. Include a good home care company to help with housekeeping, laundry, companionship or more, while you take a break. If you don’t think you can afford it, contact an Elder Care Service Provider in your area to see if you qualify for some financial assistance. Hire a Geriatric Care Manager for guidance, advocacy and advice on all eldercare matters.
Create a schedule that will help to reduce stress by bringing some structure to the day and put that support network to work for you. Schedule time out for frequent breaks, like sitting on the porch or by a window with a cup of tea, close your eyes and focus on your breathing for just a few minutes, walk around the block, watch a 30 minute TV show (preferably a comedy)… anything that will support you and shift your perspective.
Look for existing resources. The Executive Office of Elder for Aging Services Access Points (Elder Service Providers) and Councils on Aging, Adult Day Health, MassRespiteCoalition.org, Neighborhood Brigade.org (volunteers), Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (Family Respite Care Grant). AARP.org, ALZ.org. Reach out, get out and ask for help. You deserve it.
Intercity Home Care is family owned and has been providing quality care since 1967. Based in Malden with offices in Salem and Lowell we serve over 60 communities in Greater Boston, North Shore and Merrimack Valley. Call for a free assessment and learn more about the services of our Private Care Division and its Director of Care Management, Lisa O’Loughlin, RN, GCM at 781-333-6550.