Transitions With Jean Blog

Caregivers appreciate your support

February 2, 2020

The third Friday in February is National Caregivers Day - February 21, 2020.

Who are the caregivers in your life? Looking around your circle, you will see many people who fill this role.

First, there are the committed professionals who care for those who cannot fully take care of themselves. Their job is demanding and tiring, but they are there because they have the heart for it. There is the in-home caregiver that helps Mom two mornings a week; the CNA who is providing personal care at your assisted living community; and the hospice team that is helping someone with quality end-of-life. They all provide dedicated, kindhearted care every day. They need your support.

Then, there are family caregivers. Are you a caregiver?

Most caregiving is done by families (like 70%). Generally, caregivers don’t think of themselves that way. “I’m not his caregiver, I’m his wife.” “I just take Dad to doctor visits and pay his bills, I’m not a caregiver.” And so, it goes. Yes, if you are helping someone, you are a caregiver.

Further, if you are responsible for taking care of the daily needs of someone who cannot care for themselves, you are their primary caregiver. Perhaps, you take care of everything else around that person who needs you, but are you taking care of the most critical part of their life – you?

Harriet Redman is a caregiver in every sense of the word. Her 27-year-old son has disabilities, so she and her husband care for him. Redman is the executive director of WisconSibs, and a member of the Wisconsin Family and Caregiver Support Alliance (WFACSA), a group dedicated to the needs of caregivers and advocating for them. She has been advocating for all of you for years, even if you haven’t met her.

Redman shared (from a survey of WI family caregivers by WFACSA):
• 73% of family caregivers are not meeting their own personal needs
• 72% of caregivers are tired/worn out a lot of the time
• 90% indicate their emotional and/or physical health has worsened

Redman talked about primary caregivers. Her message to you: “First, give yourself some credit. You have been given an opportunity (somedays it feels really overwhelming). Remember, ‘Today, I’m doing a cool thing.’”
“Then, make yourself take a break. Say, I’m going to do it, then do it. Ask a friend if they can come over for even an hour – then go read a book, go out for errands, find peace. If people have offered, take them up on it.”
There are also community groups that are ready and willing to be there for you.

One opportunity is the Fox Valley Memory Project. They have a free MINDWORKS Open House for caregivers, as well as people living with memory loss. It is Friday, February 21, from 11 am until 12:30 pm at the Goodwill Community Campus, 1800 Appleton Rd, Menasha. There will even be a light lunch. Show up and check it out.

On February 21, and at every opportunity, take time to thank the caregivers in your life – even if that caregiver is you.

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