As we prepare for National Family Caregivers Month, we honor the 30 percent of American adults who are caregivers for an ill or disabled loved one. As the senior population grows, and the need for in-home care increases as well – nearly four in 10 seniors have at least one disability – these volunteer caregivers provide an estimated 37 billion hours of informal care every year.
Though caring for a loved one can be rewarding in several ways, the demands placed on family caregivers often lead to stress and burnout. This is most common for those in the sandwich generation – middle-aged adults caring for an aging parent while also still supporting their own children. That’s why even the simplest act of support for these family caregivers can mean the world. However, many of these caregivers won’t ask for help – that’s why it’s important for you to reach out and encourage them and ask what you can do to help. Here are a few ways to show the caregivers in your life the appreciation they deserve.
Offer Respite Care
Sometimes what family caregivers need the most is simple – a break. Whether that means offering to take over for an hour while they run a quick errand, or for a few days while they enjoy a much needed vacation, respite care will give them a chance to focus on caring for their own needs. A break will help caregivers recharge for the tasks at hand.
Prepare A Meal
A healthy diet is key to maintaining physical health and energy. However, many caregivers may struggle to get the proper nutrition they need because of the long list of other tasks; and almost half of those over 65 are at risk for malnutrition. Offering a home-cooked meal for the whole family can be a huge help. You could even offer to cook for a holiday, allowing the caregiver to rest and spend time with family.
Help Around The House
With so many tasks on their to-do lists, household chores often get neglected, especially time-consuming jobs like cleaning out the garage or mowing the lawn. With the holidays around the corner, you can offer to help decorate the house and yard (or pack up the decorations after the new year). No matter how small the task, it is sure to help.
Sometimes the smallest act can brighten someone’s entire day. Sending a card of appreciation and encouragement with flowers or their favorite chocolates will show a caregiver that you value what they do. Many family caregivers don’t get the chance to hear “thank you” from the loved one they are caring for. This is also one of the easiest ways to let them know you are there to support them.
Showing support during the month of November is nice, but why not do something that could help family caregivers indefinitely? Let your state representatives know that you support the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage Family Caregivers (RAISE) Act, which would create a national strategy to support family caregivers, and the Credit for Caring Act, which would create a federal tax credit for eligible family caregivers who also work. You can also support respite care programs in your community.
At Amada Senior Care, we recognize the love and effort shown by family caregivers day in and day out. Amada is dedicated to enriching lives – not only the lives of our clients, but also their families. If you or a loved one are experiencing caregiver burnout, it may be time to reach out for professional help. Amada can help relieve the stress of meeting a senior’s care needs, allowing caregivers to better focus on their own needs and the needs of other family members. Peace of mind will come with knowing that the senior is receiving quality care, and time spent with the aging parent can truly be quality time.
Written by Taylor French, Amada contributor.