Spotlight on National Family Caregivers Month
Source: The Exceptional Advocate from The Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy
Family caregivers play a vital role in ensuring that their loved ones receive the care they need. The National Alliance for Caregiving reports, “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.”
November is National Family Caregivers Month, a month designated by the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) to thank, support, educate, and empower family caregivers. The initiative to recognize family caregivers first started in 1994, with National Family Caregivers week, and was later extended to a one-month period of recognition. Each year, the President of the United States declares the month of November National Family Caregivers Month.
National Family Caregivers Month brings awareness to the contributions of caregivers, and underscores the need for advocacy and support. Whether it’s caring for an elderly parent, spouse, or child, at some point, many adults may take on the responsibility of taking care of a family member.
Caregivers come from all walks of life, their selfless sacrifices of caring for family members who are unable to care for themselves often take a considerable emotional, physical, and financial toll. The demands of caring for a sick, disabled, or elderly loved one in addition to balancing everyday obligations can cause caregivers to suffer from stress and depression as their personal well-being is neglected.
The importance of a family caregiver’s role cannot be overlooked, nor can the importance of the need for family caregivers to take care of their physical and emotional health. When managing multiple responsibilities life can seem like one big balancing act. Making time for yourself can seem like just another item on a lengthy “To Do List.” However, by starting small and implementing some of the following tips, family caregivers can work towards improving their overall well-being one step at a time:
- Make healthier food choices.
- Allow time to exercise.
- Take advantage of respite care opportunities—everyone needs a break.
- Accept help from those who offer.
- Be aware of the signs of depression and don’t hesitate to seek professional help.
Military OneSource Consultants – If you are having trouble coping with the strain of taking care of a family member and find that your physical and emotional well-being are suffering, keep in mind that there are resources available to help. Military OneSource consultants are available to provide information and referrals on a wide range of issues. This is a free 24-hour service available to all active duty, Guard, and Reserve members (regardless of activation status) and their families. Free face-to-face counseling sessions (and the equivalent by phone or online) are also available.
Healthy Habits Coaching Programs – Also provided through Military OneSource, coaching programs are intended to help participants make positive lifestyle changes. Whether it is learning how to manage stress, eating better, or managing weight and fitness goals, there are steps you can take to start working towards a healthier lifestyle one step at a time. Program features include interactive tools and access to a personal health coach by telephone or online.
For more information about either of these resources visit the Military OneSource website or call 1 (800) 342-9647.
The Department of Health and Human Services – For more information and resources for family caregivers, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.
Disability.gov – This website features a Caregiver and Provider Resources section which provides information on caregiver support programs and services as well as, federal, state and local resources. Visit disability.gov for access to an extensive network of information and resources for disability-related programs, services, laws and benefits.
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