Celebrate and Honor the Work of Family Caregivers

November 18, 2022, Caregiving

Celebrate and Honor the Work of Family Caregivers

More than 50 million people care for and support loved ones, including older adults, children who are differently abled and those with long-term illnesses

November is National Family Caregivers Month! It’s a time to celebrate and honor the work that caregivers do to provide care for their loved ones.

The number of people who provide caregiving support continues to grow each year. There are now more than 53 million Americans caring for and supporting family members, including older adults, children who are differently abled, and those with long-term illnesses. 

While taking care of family members has its joys — including making memories and spending more time together – caregivers also face many challenges. Juggling work, taking care of children and managing stress are very real concerns. There are a number of caregivers in communities of color who face more challenges of their own with financial issues and healthcare access.

Another issue that often affects caregivers but is rarely discussed is seeing changes in their loved one as their illness worsens. There is sadness, of course. And there also can be a sense of despair associated with parts of the person they miss.

Given all the challenges and concerns, caregivers often don’t consider the ways they can be – and should be — proud of the work they do. 

Tips for caregivers

To successfully care for loved ones, caregivers need care themselves. Here are some suggestions:

  • Honor yourself as much as you honor your loved one. 
  • Ask for help. Even though you can usually figure out how to manage everything, let other family members or close friends contribute.
  • Take a break.  Even if it’s just five minutes. Slow down, take a breath, step outside, take a nap.
  • Take care of your health. When you schedule a doctor’s appointment for your loved one, schedule one of your own.
  • Get active. Take a walk, have a dance party, or sing with your loved one 
  • Stay engaged. As often as you can, enjoy the time you have. During difficult moments, like giving a bath, or during easier moments, like watching a movie or driving to the doctor’s office, it’s important to be mindful of making memories and connecting with your loved one 
  • Find outside support. Consider talking with a therapist or spiritual counselor. It may help you find ways to deal with stress and even find some joy.

As you make your way, remember beautiful words of encouragement by Dodinsky, the one-name author “In the Garden of Thoughts”: “Be there for others, but never leave yourself behind.”

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This blog was written and contributed by Gilchrist Clinical Counselor, Kellie C. McLellan, LCSW-C,

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