Are you concerned about an older adult, spouse or significant other?
Are your days filled with scheduling doctor appointments, helping your loved one pay his/her bills, going to the pharmacy to pick up medication(s), managing household chores they were once able to manage.?
How about visiting or calling your loved one more than usual just to ensure they are doing okay?
If you answered yes to any of the above, then you are a Family Caregiver and you are not alone. Family caregivers are all around us. They are most likely your neighbor, boss, child's school teacher, your doctor and even the person sitting next to you at your local coffee shop or while riding public transportation.
With as many as 65.7 million caregivers providing care to an ill, disabled or aged individual,* the sad reality is that it is rarely discussed, thus not recognized by each of us as much as it should be.
Another sad reality is that many people do not identify him/herself as a family caregiver. Why? Because some individuals view the care they provide as what any other daughter, son, wife or husband would do, i.e. fulfilling their familial duties. By not identifying as a family caregiver, however, many individuals are hindering the chance to learn about programs and services that are available specifically for family caregivers. Programs like educational workshops, local support groups, and services like home care and transportation are just a few of the resources family caregivers can tap into to help ease the stress that often accompanies caring for a loved one.
So, what should you do if you do find yourself caring for a loved one? First, accept your role as a family caregiver and begin identifying yourself and one not feeling any shame in doing so. Yes, it is a term/label many of us would not like to utilize but it is one that can open the door to many resources.
What do you think about identifying as a family caregiver? Please share your thoughts below including how the term, if applicable, has helped your caregiving journey.
* According to The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2009), Caregiving in the U.S. National Alliance for Caregiving. Washington, DC.] - Updated: November 2012
Christine M. Valentin
As a licensed clinical social worker, I help individuals caring for a loved one reduce feelings of anxiety, depression and stress. This blog is meant to share with you, many of the suggestions I recommend to many family caregivers. Sign up to receive them directly.