With an estimated 53 million adults acting as caregivers across the United States, it’s important to appreciate these individuals who offer their time and energy to help others. Fortunately, National Family Caregivers Month provides the perfect opportunity. Read on to learn how you can commemorate this month-long event and show appreciation for the family caregivers in your life.
National Family Caregivers Month
National Family Caregivers Month is celebrated every November to honor family caregivers and put the spotlight on the tremendous work they do. First formally recognized with a presidential proclamation in 1997, it has continued to grow in prominence and importance ever since.
While many caregivers work quietly behind the scenes, their work can put considerable strain on their own lives. In fact, a 2020 survey from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP found 23% of caregivers said their responsibilities have made their own health worse. Additionally, one in five caregivers are providing unpaid care and experiencing the financial effects. Unfortunately as these stresses mount, it can lead to a condition known as caregiver burnout.
What is Caregiver Burnout?
Though providing care for a loved one can be highly rewarding, it also comes with significant demands. In some cases, caregivers might not even realize the detrimental impacts the additional responsibilities are having on their own health. This is when caregiver burnout becomes a risk. A state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion, some of the signs of burnout include:
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Feelings of anxiety, irritability or depression
- Increase in health problems or getting sick frequently
- Withdrawal from friends, family and other loved ones
- Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
One of the best ways to help overwhelmed caregivers is to offer your support and appreciation. Even small gestures can help those on the brink bounce back and remember they’re not alone.
7 Ways You Can Show Appreciation for a Family Caregiver
Most caregivers do what they do out of a sense of duty and love, not necessarily for recognition. However, it always helps to know your efforts are not going unnoticed and you can count on loved ones for support. If you want to recognize a caregiver in your life, there are many simple, yet meaningful ways to go about it. Here are some suggestions:
1. Take Time to Listen
Acting as a sounding board for caregivers can make a serious difference in stress levels. Sometimes the ability to unburden and get feelings and frustrations out of your system is especially rejuvenating. While our natural tendency is to act a7/s problem solvers, put those desires aside and just sit back and listen.
2. Small Acts of Kindness
There are numerous small acts of kindness that require little effort, but go a long way. Whether you check in with a thoughtful text, send flowers for a special event or put together a care package, the only limit is your imagination. What really counts is showing your thoughtful support.
<3. Help With Errands
When you’re swamped with stressful work, errands that eat up your valuable time are the last thing you want to worry about. Think about some of the simple tasks you can cross off the to-do list for the caregivers you know. Occasionally running to the grocery store or post office frees up time they can devote to family or self-care.
4. Make a Meal
One of the common symptoms of caregiver burnout is changes in weight and appetite. It’s all too easy to reach for a bag of chips or skip eating altogether when your time is at a premium. Consider a day of the week you could offer assistance by dropping off a healthy, nutritious meal. Even if you’re not a culinary whiz, you can always treat them to a favorite takeout restaurant.
5. Household Chores
Caregivers often find themselves handling the chores of others, allowing their own homes to slip into disrepair. As any homeowner can tell you, the list of work to be done is seemingly never ending. Help reduce this stress by picking up a few household chores. Everything from mowing the lawn to washing the car can bring about a better balance.
6. Family Support
There’s no substitute for spending time with family. However, there are many areas where you could contribute to the balance of family life such as picking kids up from dance practice or taking the dog for a quick walk. The key is to fit in as seamlessly as possible so it’s not another thing caregivers have to worry about coordinating.
7. Be Flexible
Since demands on the time of caregivers are often significant, try to make yourself available on their schedule so it’s not one more thing they have to accommodate. If you have plans and they have to cancel at the last minute for an emergency, they feel bad enough anyway. Let them know you understand and are happy to reschedule at their convenience.
Additional Support Options for Caregivers
Despite the support from friends, family and loved ones, the responsibilities of caregiving can sometimes be too much. If you or a caregiver you know are considering getting professional assistance, respite care at Harbour’s Edge might be just what you’re looking for.
Respite care is a temporary option that provides a chance for caregivers to recharge while loved ones have access to around-the-clock skilled care. Often this short break can help caregivers recharge and offer a better quality of care in the long run.
At Harbour’s Edge we offer respite care options starting with a minimum stay of two months in our five-star rated health center. During their stay, guests enjoy access to all of the amenities and activities available to full-time residents. This includes everything from chef-prepared meals at our renowned dining venues to the spectacular waterfront swimming pool and spa.
We understand choosing respite care can be a difficult decision to make, and our caring team is here every step of the way. We will gladly answer any questions you or the caregiver in your life may have, in addition to showing you around our beautiful Delray Beach community. Please don’t hesitate to contact us when you’re ready to get the conversation started.