MVCN Magazine by and for CaregiversFall 2015
November is “National Family Caregiver Month”
By Portia Adams
November is National Family Caregiver Month, a time during which we pause to acknowledge the sacrifices made by caregivers of a family member. This year’s theme is “Respite: Care for Caregivers,” according to the Caregiver Action Network (CAN), a partner of MVCN.
Respite – the chance to take a breather, the opportunity to re-energize – is as important as any other item on a caregiver’s to-do list. People think of respite as a luxury, but considering caregivers’ increased risk for health issues from chronic stress, isolation, and depression, such risks are a lot costlier than taking some time away to recharge.
Respite is the key to your own well-being. Respite protects your emotional and physical health, strengthens family relationships, prevents burn-out and allows your loved one to remain at home up to three times longer. No wonder respite is one of the most frequently requested support services for family caregivers.
R is for “Rest and Relaxation.” Everyone needs a little “R and R” – especially family caregivers. Relaxing is the best way to return refreshed to handle your many responsibilities as a caregiver.
E as in “Energize.” Caregiving is often around-the-clock, 24/7. Respite is more than “getting a few hours off.” It is necessary to help you re-energize, reduce stress and better provide care for your loved one.
S as in “Sleep.” Caregivers often have disordered sleep. Address sleep problems and insomnia before they take too great a toll on your health.
P is for “Programs that can help you.” Respite care, whether inside or outside of the home – can be hard to find, but programs are available to help you.
I as in “Imagination.” Let your mind run free: read a book or see a movie. You become so preoccupied with the nuts-and-bolts of caregiving that refreshing your mind will help you to be a better caregiver.
T as in “Take Five”…or better yet, take ten. Do you find yourself saying, “I wish I had just ten minutes to myself”? Don’t feel guilty. You need a reprieve – a few minutes to temporarily disengage.
E is for “Exhale.” Taking the time to simply breathe in and then exhale can help you focus and increase your vitality. A few deep breaths can give you more energy, reduce stress, and lift your mood.
As President Obama said when proclaiming National Family Caregiver Month in 2012, “Family members, friends, and neighbors devote countless hours to providing care to their relatives or loved ones. During National Family Caregivers Month, we recognize and thank the humble heroes who do so much to keep our families and communities strong.”
This year’s proclamation is available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/10/30/presidential-proclamation-national-family-caregivers-month-2015
Your peers in the Military and Veteran Caregiver Network (MVCN) hope that this November, all caregivers will make it a priority to care for themselves.
We encourage caregivers to join our online community at www.milvetcaregivernetwork.org/connect-online and participate in a discussion or chat to share what respite activities work for you.