November is National Family Caregiver’s Month. This year’s theme is focused specifically on Respite care, the important service that allows caregivers crucial time to rest and relax, energize, sleep, use programs, imagination, and exhale.
This year’s Presidential Proclamation reminds us how important it is that family caregivers have support. President Obama states, “I encourage all Americans to pay tribute to those who provide for the health and well-being of their family members, friends, and neighbors.”
When they ensure their own well-being, caregivers are better able to help the people they love. Right now, 18 percent of caregivers are assisting two or more adults. About half of all caregivers are over age 50, which by itself makes them more vulnerable to health issues. What’s more, 17% of caregivers describe their health as fair or poor, and the toll on the caregiver’s health appears to increase over time and with higher caregiving hours.
How can the theme RESPITE help you and the caregivers in your life?
R is for “Rest and Relaxation” – Everyone needs a little “R and R” – especially family caregivers. Relaxing is the best way to return refreshed to handle your many responsibilities as a caregiver.
E as in “Energize” – Caregiving is often round-the-clock 24/7. Respite isn’t simply “getting a few hours off.” It’s necessary to help you reenergize, reduce stress and provide care for your loved one.
S as in “Sleep” – Caregivers often have sleep problems. Address sleep problems and insomnia before they take too great a toll on your health.
P is for “Programs that can help you” Respite – which can be in the home or out of the home – can be hard to find but there are programs available to help you.
I as in “Imagination” – Let your mind run free; read a book; see a movie. You have been so occupied with the nuts-and-bolts of caregiving that refreshing your mind will actually help you be a better caregiver.
T as in “Take Five” or better yet, take ten. Do you find yourself saying, “I wish I had just ten minutes to myself”? Don’t feel guilty. You need a reprieve – a few minutes to temporarily disengage.
E is for “Exhale” – A simple breath in and then a long exhale can help you focus and increase your vitality. A few deep breaths can give you more energy, reduce stress, and lift your mood.
This November, acknowledge and thank the caregivers in your family or community, but also make them aware of the support networks available. Visit our website at www.the-caregivers-journal.com for more resources for caregivers.