As most of us prepare to host families for Thanksgiving Day dinner, there are a few other observances worth noting: National Alzheimer’s Disease Month, National Home Care & Hospice Month, National Long-term Care Awareness Month, and National Family Caregivers Month. Here are a few random facts to consider [found at Caregiver Action Network]:
- Family caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients provided an estimated 17.9 billion hours of unpaid care, valued at $217.7 billion in 2014
- More than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one
- Approximately 66% of family caregivers are women. More than 37% have children or grandchildren under 18 years old living with them
We all know a caregiver. They could be family, friends, co-workers, a neighbor or even a Facebook friend. They often perform the thankless tasks we will never see. They sacrifice much in order to care for their loved one whether they are at home or in a facility. They are often extremely stressed and taxed and neglected. Here are a few suggestions to lighten their loads during the holiday season:
- Do not place any unreasonable demands on them to prepare meals or festivities. Give them the gift of rest and little stress.
- Keep in mind that caregiving is not a job with pay in most cases, days off or vacations. It is a job. If you have the means or the time, give the caregiver a day off to simply hear their own thoughts or even sleep.
- If the caregiver has a family member or the means to have someone take their place for a few hours, then invite him or her out for lunch or dinner. Get them out of the house to let them feel a sense of normalcy.
The holidays are tough for so many people, especially those who are serving as caregivers. In the immortal words of Otis Redding, try a little tenderness, and make this time of year as kind to one as possible.