November is National Caregivers Month. It is a month dedicated to acknowledging the hard work and quiet service that is given to those who have lost the ability to fully care for themselves. Caregivers are usually close family members who are grateful to be able to meet their loved one’s needs.
Most of us will be caregivers at some point or will need to be cared for ourselves, so this is an issue that touches each of us in some way. The most important thing for caregivers to know is that what they do is appreciated, and when it gets hard, there are people to talk to.
This year, the Ad Council and AARP have joined Caregiver Action Network in lending support to the 42 million among us who are providing loving care for someone dear. Studies show that the typical caregiver is a 49 year old female with a job who devotes 20 hours every week to caring for a mother – usually for five years.
Why is it?
When the person in need is a family member or close friend, people often don’t view themselves in terms of “caregiver”. They are just quietly doing what needs to be done with grace and love. However, being a caregiver means wearing many different hats. Often the caregiver becomes nurse, personal secretary, cook, chauffer, housekeeper and confidante. Although the majority of caregivers view their position as a privilege, the demands of the role still take a toll.
AARP research showed:
- 52 percent of caregivers are proud to help
- 44 percent said they didn’t feel they could share their own burdens with anyone
- 40 percent reported getting less sleep
- 33 percent said they were depressed
- 30 percent experienced life changes as a result of their caregiving
- 20 percent said those changes had been negative
What is it?
Last year (2012) AARP sponsored ads that highlighted the challenges faced by women caring for a loved one with a disability, chronic health problem or old age. Those ads gave women and other caregivers a link to helpful resources through the AARP website.
This year new advertising will play across all mediums in both Spanish and English. The hope is that with a blitz approach, Americans will strike up a national conversation about how to better support those in the role of caregiver.
How can I participate?
The national campaign is also using social media to help get out the message that being a caregiver is important and valued. The “Thanks Project” allow visitors to post encouraging notes and pictures which can then be shared on Facebook and Twitter. But there is much more you can do to support a caregiver.
Call a caregiver often. Take them to lunch and invite them to talk. Offer to meet one of their needs. Send a Christian greeting card and tell them how their selfless service mirrors that of Christ.
There’s nothing like a personal note to say “I’m thinking of you and I appreciate you.” The Printery House invites you to check out their online store when you are looking for a Christian greeting card to encourage a caregiver you know. Make sure to send one before November ends.