November is National Family Caregivers Month
Last updated: November 2023
As a mom, you are a natural caregiver. From the moment you realize a new life is on the way, to seeing the first glimpse of that new little person in your life, you are a caregiver. Then you get to raise them to adulthood, and even after that, you continue to care.
Everyone is a caregiver
You may not have children, but even then, you have probably helped someone in your family when they needed it. Most of the time it's little things like running an errand or listening to the newest drama in their lives and being there for them that make you a caregiver. And, as a caregiver, you get to feel good knowing you have helped in some small way.
Caregiving under difficult circumstances
But sometimes you’re asked to do something you should never have to do, like care for a family member with blood cancer. What makes it even worse is when it is your child.
Unfortunately, my daughter, Crystal, had Hodgkin lymphoma. Today, she is well and thriving. However, I remember how emotionally, and sometimes physically, taxing it could be.
I’m not complaining, but it was hard watching her go through all she went through. Taking care of her was my first priority. I never thought that maybe I needed a break because I was a mom and that’s what moms do.
Since then, I have learned that you need to take care of yourself to care for someone else. Well, there’s also a special month for that!
A month to thank our caregivers
Recently, I learned there is a whole month, November, dedicated to caregivers to help us understand our role and how we can best support ourselves and those we are caring for. Knowing that what we do is seen and appreciated is pretty awesome!
It all started in 2014, thanks to President Obama. He proclaimed November to be National Family Caregivers Month. This is what the president had to say about caregivers:1
“Each day, courageous individuals step forward to help care for family members in need, their quiet acts of selflessness and sacrifice telling a story of love and devotion. Across our country, parents and children, siblings and spouses, friends, and neighbors heroically give of themselves to support those in their lives affected by illness, injury, or disability. During National Family Caregivers Month, we salute the people who play difficult and exhausting roles, and we recommit to lifting up these Americans as they care for their loved ones while protecting their dignity and individuality.” -- Barack Obama
Ways to support the caregivers you know
Below are a few tips to show support to a caregiver:
- Lend a hand. Offer help and when you do, be specific. For example, offer to do the shopping, laundry, make the trip to the doctor, or cook.
- If money is an issue and you are in a position to help financially, start a fundraiser, offer to pay for the week's shopping, or just leave a check or gift card.
- Listen. Check in often and let the person vent, share stories, or cry. Show your support by making that phone call or stopping in for tea.
- Change the scenery. Take them out for an hour for lunch, dinner, a massage, or just to take a walk.
A support organization for caregivers
There are resources available to help support caregivers. One organization that I am familiar with it Caring Bridge. In addition to highlighting November as Caregiver's Month, the Caring Bridge site offers tips and information that caregivers may find helpful, including a platform for caregivers to share updates on their loved one’s progress. They also offer support groups and tips for caregiver burnout, share gift ideas for caregivers and help caregivers understand ways they can best support their loved ones.
Thankful for my co-caregivers
There are so many people who fall under the category of "caregiver" and I’m thankful for all of them. Lots of people in my family helped care for Crystal in some way and even friends and a few people she barely knew played a role in helping her get through her illness.
If you are a caregiver, stay strong. Ask for help if you need it and take some time for yourself. You can reset and move forward stronger and more prepared as you care for your loved one. Always remember, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. Stay strong and you will reach it.
Wishing you health and happiness.
How do you feel about your support system?