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Caring for Caregivers

A study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP found that approximately 43.5 million caregivers provided unpaid care to a loved one or family member in 2015. November is National Family Caregivers Month, a great time to appreciate and support the caregivers in your life.

Here are a few tips for them to consider:

It Takes a Village

If a loved one falls seriously ill or is diagnosed with a chronic illness, responsibility of care often falls to those who are closest to them. When combined with other daily tasks and responsibilities, the added role of caregiver can be incredibly taxing. It’s important that you don’t overlook your own health and well-being in the process. 

Beyond working with doctors to ensure the best care for your loved one, there are many resources available:

  • Senior Centers can provide opportunities to take part in outings, lectures, games and other activities. Some centers also offer counseling and referral services.
  • Social service organizations in your community may provide transportation services, meals and at-home nursing care.
  • Reach out to family members. Even if you have taken on the responsibility of being the primary caretaker for your loved one, relying on family for emotional and financial support can help lighten the load.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to save money on medical treatments and prescriptions. By participating in prescription discount programs like Community Cares Rx, you can utilize free online tools to research drug prices and download a free prescription discount card that could help you cut down on the cost of medications.

Take Care of Yourself

Self-care may not come naturally to caregivers with a lot on their plate, but you can’t pour from an empty glass. Exercise is a great way to release endorphins that improve your mood, and it can also provide release from daily pressures. Also, don’t forget to eat fruits, vegetables and protein every day to help maintain energy and fuel your body.

Recognizing and handling the emotions of being a caregiver can be difficult. It can be helpful to connect with people who are in the same situation as you. The American Heart Association has online support networks, and organizations like AARP host events around the country to help caregivers connect and support each other.

Take advantage of the resources at your fingertips, ask for help when you need it and remember that your care and compassion means the world to your loved ones.

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