Caregivers spend each day performing the ultimate labor of love, living extraordinarily selfless lives. The month of November has been declared National Family Caregivers Month to celebrate these 60 million amazing Americans.
Caregivers spend much of their days caring for their loved ones, leaving little room for personal time. The amount of stress caregivers endure can often lead to depression, anxiety or other illnesses.
Suleika Jaouad, Emmy Award-winning New York Times Well columnist and cancer survivor, recalled that during her cancer treatment, her health care became her mother’s “full-time job.” Suleika’s mother is one of millions of Americans who have made caring for their loved ones a full-time job. These jobs often go unpaid and unrecognized, especially with caregivers of those with dementia.
A recent study published in the October issue of the journal Health Affairs found that among older adults who receive help for dementia, more than 90 percent of those in community settings and more than 80 percent in residential care settings rely on family or unpaid caregivers.
Given the amount of stress caregivers endure, it’s important for them to remember to take care of themselves. They must be mindful of their own health in order to take care of their loved one.
Paying attention to your own needs can help you be a better care partner.
Caregivers are truly there with their loved ones through it all. There may be various doctors, nurses and pharmacists involved in helping someone stay healthy, but only the caregiver is there on a day-in day-out basis. This consistent presence can provide much-needed assurance to a loved-one battling an illness.
The courageous, selfless work of caregivers cannot be overstated. The sacrifices they make and their commitment to keeping loved ones healthy is admirable. Let us take time, not just during this month, but every month to express our sincere gratitude to the millions of men and women serving as dedicated care partners.
Jaime Venditti, State Coordinator, New York Health Works