Celebrate caregiver monthWe all have lessons to learn in our lifetime. Sometimes our journey takes us through turbulent waters and other times the waters are calm.
By: By Mary Krueger, senior liaison, Alexandria Echo Press
We all have lessons to learn in our lifetime. Sometimes our journey takes us through turbulent waters and other times the waters are calm. These journeys become a part of us and make us who we are today. We are here to learn from each other and through these lessons we become better people.
Becoming a family caregiver for someone you love is one of those heart wrenching and sometimes enlightening lessons. Your role as a family caregiver can happen abruptly or creep in slowly, even unnoticed, until one day you realize you are caring more for someone else in your life than you are for yourself.
You may find yourself beginning to struggle with the every day demands and somewhere along the way you realize you have lost your own identity and have allowed the care giving role to define who you are. This can be very frightening.
The journey can be difficult when traveled alone; however, it does not have to be that hard and you do not and should not have to go it alone.
More than 50 million people provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend in any given year. 1.4 million children ages 8 to 18 provide care for an adult relative.
The typical caregiver is a 46-year-old woman caring for her widowed mother who does not live with her. She is married and employed. Approximately 60 percent of family caregivers are women; 30 percent of family caregivers caring for seniors are themselves age 65 or older.
The value of the services family caregivers provide for “free” is estimated to be $306 billion a year. This is almost twice as much as is actually spent on home care and nursing home services combined.
Stress of family care giving for persons with dementia has been shown to impact a person’s immune system for up to three years after their care giving ends, thus increasing their chances of developing a chronic illness themselves.
Believe in yourself. Try to maintain a positive attitude by recognizing your strengths and limitations. This will go a long way in your ability to set goals and boundaries for yourself and your loved one.
Protect your health. It is critically important to maintain your physical and emotional health and well-being. Your good health is the greatest gift you can give your loved one and your family.
Reach out for help. This is never a sign of weakness; rather, it demonstrates strength and a keen awareness of your own abilities and sense of self.
Caregiver support group: Come and join us. We meet the second Tuesday of each month from 2 to 4 p.m. at First Lutheran Church in Alexandria and/or the fourth Monday of each month from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at First Lutheran Church. We provide educational opportunities, sharing time and a safe place to just talk and listen.