November is National Family Caregiver’s month, a time when we honor the more than 65 million Americans who care for their aging or disabled loved ones. Unpaid care provided by family caregivers makes up 90 percent of long-term care in America. If you are a caregiver for an elderly or disabled relative, know that you are not alone.
As a caregiver, it is important to prioritize your own health and well-being to best support your loved ones. Below are a few steps you can take to manage your responsibilities:
- Intentionally make time for yourself to ensure that you are healthy, both mentally and physically.
- Organize a binder of information you need frequently.
- Join a support group and build your caregiving team to ensure you do not feel alone.
- Maintain a positive outlook and find humor in everyday situations.
If you do not live close to your elderly loved ones, you can still help support them from a distance:
- Check in with your loved ones often. If you are unable to visit in person, virtual communication can help you and your loved ones feel less lonely and isolated.
- Schedule a weekly telephone or video chat, send a daily text message, or check in via social media.
- Send cards and letters. Getting a letter or card can brighten your loved one’s day.
- Send a care package. Because it might be hard for older people to get to the store, putting together a care package of things you know they'll need, such as canned goods, over-the-counter medicines, and cleaning supplies, may be a huge help in addition to a reminder that you care about them.
Juggling your work and caregiving responsibilities can be challenging. It is important to remember to reach out for assistance and to take care of yourself. Your Component Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you manage your elder care concerns.
An EAP counselor can provide you with personal support for your eldercare concerns, including:
- Referrals to state-specific programs that provide elderly residents with a variety of support services including transportation, meals, recreation, and more;
- Referrals for elder legal concerns;
- Financial consultations to help manage financial concerns that your elderly relatives might be facing; and
- Support groups in your area for caregivers.
For more information or for help in contacting your EAP, you can reach your DHS Work-Life specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org.