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National Family Caregiver Month: 7 Tips For Family Caregivers

By Jessica Deng

November is a month of celebrations, a month of being thankful, to pause and recognize unsung heroes among us: family caregivers. Celebrated every November, National Family Caregivers Month (NFCM) is a time to recognize and honor family caregivers across the country.

Who is a “Family Caregiver”?

A family caregiver is anyone who helps with someone’s health journey, whether it is physical or mental, acute, or chronic. This could be a husband caring for his wife diagnosed with a terminal illness or a neighbor helping a friend navigate the challenges of chronic illness.

The scope of caregiving varies widely, from assisting a disabled person to attend social events a few times a week to full-time caregiving that involves cooking and cleaning bathing, shopping, and anything else the elderly or disabled person needs to live a healthy and safe life.

As a local elder care and lifestyle services provider, we understand caring for a family can be a rewarding experience, but in the day-to-day, it can also be challenging, frustrating, and can lead to serious burnout. Below are 7 tips for family caregivers to follow and help in managing life as a caregiver:

  1. Do one thing at a time – when doing everyday activities, focus on the activity at hand without letting your mind wander onto the usual worries or other tasks.
  2. Take a mindful walk – notice the clouds and sky, the sounds of nature the birds chirping, etc. With so much around us to pay attention to on a walk, this gives our minds a break from our usual thoughts. Even a few minutes of fresh air can boost your mood, increase your energy, and provide a much-needed break.
  3. Think outside of the box – as different situations arise, apply unique solutions. If what are you doing is not working, it is time to try something you haven’t tried before.
  4. Ask for help – as a caregiver, stress and burnout are sometimes unavoidable. In such times, know that you are not alone on this journey and that there is nothing wrong with seeking assistance.
  5. Take care of your needs as a caregiver – taking the time to care for yourself, understanding that you can only handle so much, celebrating special moments, and seeking support can help you stay strong and confident as you continue managing your life as a caregiver.
  6. Keep medical and dental appointments – do all you can to maintain your health. If you’re sick, you won’t be able to care for your loved one. Ask for help when you need it so you can get away from your medical appointments and take care of your health and well-being.
  7. Keep a schedule – planning out your day for both you and your loved one helps your loved one feel a sense of security and predictability and provides you with structure and a sense of control over what’s to come in your day. It will also help to ensure you’re scheduling the breaks you might otherwise not have.

Whether you are caring for a loved one living in your home or caring from a distance, caregiving is a generous act of love and kindness and can be difficult and stressful. National Family Caregiver Month serves as a reminder that family caregivers are truly the backbone of our healthcare system and society.

This month and every month, let’s celebrate the remarkable contributions of family caregivers and take steps to ease their burdens and ensure they receive the assistance and acknowledgment they deserve.

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