Did you know?
Each year by presidential proclamation there is National Family Caregivers Month? It’s November, due to Thanksgiving. I also get a governor’s proclamation each year in NJ as do other states. In part it reads:
“Whereas, the primary source of community-based services and the cornerstone of our long-term care system are care recipients’ family members, friends and neighbors who help their loved ones maintain their independence and their quality of life; and…according to the National Alliance for Caregiving, there are roughly 67 million family or informal caregivers in the United States...”. This means you’re not alone!
Not a caregiver you say? I had my “lightbulb moment” when I thought “How many other parents are still diapering their five year olds or feeding them baby food? “ How many of us may even be lifetime caregivers? More people enter institutional care due to caregiver burnout rather than deterioration of their condition. I know it’s our “job” to take care of our kids, but you’re doing MORE than other parents and are also caregivers (just like wife caring for an ill husband or someone caring for an elderly person).
How to avoid caregiver “burnout”
- Take care of your own health by not skipping your own doctor’s appointments; this includes the dentist and eye doctor too!
- Get support. Besides support groups, there are “matching” groups for families of children with the same condition.
- Find out as much as you can about your child’s condition so you know what you’re dealing with and can partner with medical and educational professionals in making decisions.
- Take a break to relieve stress whether it’s respite, exercise, etc. No time? I put a chair in the corner with books, candles, aromatherapy, fiber optic decorative lights etc. and started with 5 minutes a day which believe it or not helped.
Remember that you still need your own “time out” to recharge. I know it’s hard not to feel guilty but when you feel like you can’t take a break at all and there’s too much to do, THAT’s when you need it the most. You’ll be better able to care for your child if you’re not “running on empty” and take care of yourself.
P.S. Sorry this one’s late but my daughter was in the hospital-again!
National Family Caregivers Month
Matching with a trained support parent
Online caregiver community
Mental health help
Resource Guide (conditions, special needs organizations, etc.-new each January)