Though I wrote about why I believe every day should be National Encouragement Day (click here to read) over two months ago, the message is still incredibly relevant to me today.
As November was declared National Family Caregivers Month in 2015, now is the perfect time to think about how we can encourage all of the caregivers we know who unselfishly help care for aging relatives while juggling daily career and family demands.
Being a caretaker is no easy task. According to AARP:
40 million Americans take care of a loved one — helping them live independently at home where they want to be. What family caregivers do is extraordinary — adult children taking care of their parents, husbands and wives caring for their spouses, mothers and fathers caring for adult children.
Together, family caregivers spend 37 billion hours each year providing unpaid assistance to their loved ones — a contribution valued at $470 billion. They help with bathing and dressing, driving to appointments, preparing meals, managing medications, handling finances and so much more. Many are also juggling full-time or part-time jobs, and some are still raising their families.
This month, AARP is even encouraging us to take the time to honor a family caregiver that we know with a random act of kindness:
If you want to honor a family caregiver you know with a simple act of kindness, read on for five easy ways you can show them your support.
1) Listen Without Judgment: With so much on their plate, family caregivers can experience a range of emotions – from guilt to anxiety and sometimes, anger. In order to help them manage these feelings, offer the caregiver you know a safe space to talk about their feelings. I’ve found there’s often no better way to deal with stress than having a conversation with someone I can trust.
2) Lighten Their Load: Too often primary family caregivers take on way more than one person can handle. This month, make an effort to learn each of the tasks he or she handles for their loved one in need, and then determine which of the tasks you may be able to best help with.
3) Give Them a Journal: Keeping a written record of things helps caregivers with everything from to-do lists to daily agendas. A journal may also serve as a creative outlet to write down thoughts and feelings, which I find to be quite cathartic in stressful times.
4) Visit on a Regular Basis: Maintaining a social life is important for caregivers, but with so much on their plates, many aren’t able to make socializing a priority. Don’t let the caregiver you know become isolated. Consider your weekly schedule versus their weekly demands and then set a recurring day or time to visit with them; let them know they’re not alone.
5) Help Add Balance to Their Day: Managing work-life balance is hard for everyone, but it is exceptionally challenging for caregivers with erratic schedules.
If recurring visits aren’t convenient or realistic for either of you, as an alternative, invite and encourage the caregiver you know to participate in stress-relieving, social activities that don’t occupy much of their time.
Need an idea? Working out is the perfect way to blow off steam! Consider inviting your friend to join you for walk, run or to partake in a class at a local gym this month.
Tell Me: How do you encourage the caregivers that you know?