“November is National Family Caregivers Month and now, more than ever, caregivers need love and support,” says Lauren Kessler, Executive Administrator at Bartley Healthcare, located in Jackson, New Jersey. “Being a caregiver is stressful during a regular year. In COVID-19, that stress is raised to a new level.”
This year’s theme is Caregiving Around the Clock, which Lauren feels is quite appropriate. “Caregivers truly do work around the clock, even if they aren’t actively caregiving during some of those hours,” she says. “Even when they’re at a job, running errands or doing something else essential in their life, caregiving is never far from the family caregiver’s mind.”
Although any time of year is a wonderful time to reach out to family caregivers and show how much they mean, November is particularly meaningful because the winter months can make things gloomy and dreary – and on a positive note, Thanksgiving makes it the perfect time to show appreciation. Lauren says that even though many family members may not be sure how to show support to caregivers, the important thing is to reach out – no matter how big or little the gesture.
“Sometimes it’s the little things, like a funny meme or a cup of coffee, that get you through the day,” she says.
Why Caregivers Need Support
Caregiving is an all-encompassing job. Most family caregivers are caring for their loved one while also holding down an outside job and caring for other family members – like a spouse or children. As anyone who’s burnt the candle at both ends knows, this is exhausting.
Caregivers need to know their work is meaningful. Sometimes caregivers may feel like no one notices or appreciates all the work they do day in, day out. While, as a rule of thumb, caregivers don’t go into the job for praise or acclaim, it’s also a great boost to self-esteem and self-worth when other people recognize the hard work they do.
Caregivers need coping mechanisms. Most family caregivers have not been formally trained in caregiving – and managing all the emotions and feelings that come along with the task. Caregiving can bring up some very strong emotions and carries a lot of stress. It’s essential for caregivers to find ways to support themselves and provide self-care, because if they aren’t caring for themselves, there’s no way they can continue to provide quality care for their loved ones.
Caregivers need to know they’re not alone. Caregiving can be a very lonely job, and family caregivers may feel as if no one understands their situation. One of the things National Family Caregivers Month focuses on is highlighting awareness of groups and community support centers where caregivers can connect with others who are going through the same things they are. Being in touch with other caregivers can provide a space for family caregivers to solicit information, advice and support without feeling judged.
How to Support a Caregiver in Your Life
“Bartley Healthcare understands what an all-encompassing job caregiving can be, and we provide a variety of services and support for those of us in our greater community who are caring for a loved one,” says Lauren. “During National Family Caregivers Month, we focus even more heavily on sharing our knowledge and experience to caregivers and family members who are looking for advice, a helping hand or a shoulder to lean on. For more than 34 years, our community has provided award-winning care and remains committed to the continued enrichment of the lives of our residents, patients and families.”
Here are some of Bartley Healthcare’s tips for showing and sharing support for a caregiver in your life.
Reach out with a “no response needed” text, call or email. Chances are you might not know what to say to a caregiver in your life, which is why you hesitate to reach out. However, the act of reaching out is in and of itself a supportive gesture. Sending a message – saying something like “thinking of you today” – shows caregivers you’re thinking about them and doesn’t obligate them to talk.
Ask for their grocery list. Or any other list that has tasks that need completed. It’s easy as pie to say, “I’m headed to the grocery store; send me your list so I can pick up things for you.” Oftentimes, things like groceries, cleaning the house and other never-ending chores fall to the bottom of the priority list while caregiving, and offering a helping hand to cover them is always appreciated.
Give them a self-care hour or afternoon. The gift of time is priceless for caregivers. Everyone knows that self-care is important, but finding the time to do those things just doesn’t ever seem like it’s in the cards. Reach out to your caregiver and offer to watch their loved one for a few hours (or however long you can) so the caregiver can spend time getting a haircut, doing things for herself or simply taking a nap.
Offer to find resources. There are many community resources available for caregivers, but looking for those services can take time and energy. Offer to research different services that could provide much-needed support to your caregiver, such as transportation services, adult day care services, meal services and more.
The Memory Care Resources You Need.
Memory care services at Bartley Healthcare provide a fulfilling lifestyle and array of services and amenities right on the Bartley Healthcare campus. As a private, family-owned community, we get to know each resident personally, allowing us to customize their level of care to perfectly match their needs while providing them and their families with the support they need.
Here, residents can embrace an engaging lifestyle in a secure, safe setting while experiencing the security and comfort of a qualified, compassionate team. We take care of it all – housekeeping and delicious dining, scheduled transportation, programming to meet varying interests and more – it’s all included with care, so you never need to worry about rising costs!
And because we are able to care for every resident through every stage of dementia, you can rest easy, knowing that your loved one will be treated with compassion, care and love.
For more information or to schedule a tour, contact our team today at 732-372-4055.