Caring for Caregivers

Caring for another person, whether it’s a child, an aging parent, or someone else is a selfless- and sometimes all-consuming task. Unfortunately, by focusing so much on the needs of the person they’re caring, many caregivers make a huge mistake: they don’t give themselves enough (or, sometimes, any) time off. Fortunately, there is a solution.

The Ad Council and AARP are trying to raise awareness of the Caregiver Assistance campaign this month, since November is National Family Caregivers month. The Random Acts of Kindness initiative aims to recognize and support the 40 million unpaid caregivers in the U.S. Many caregivers are boomer women, often sandwiched between the needs of their parents and their own kids.

A popular misconception is that caregivers are paid medical professionals, providing full-time care to someone in need of daily help, when in reality, most caregivers are family members or friends who are also working and managing their own families at the same time. For many, the caregiving role starts with simple things like scheduling a doctor’s visit or helping with daily errands, but gradually expands over time, until it becomes a major commitment in their lives.

How can you help?

This November they are kicking off a program designed to encourag all Americans to perform an unexpected ‘ Random Acts of Kindness for Caregivers’ for a caregiver. By starting a nationwide movement, we’ll raise awareness of caregiving and caregivers while at the same time reaching caregivers directly—helping to alleviate some of their daily stresses and reward them for their ongoing support.

Almost three in ten people who are caring for someone say their life has changed with caregiving, oftentimes for the negative. More than one in five say their weight, their exercise, or their social life has/have suffered. Emotionally, one in five say they are generally unhappier and one in three say they feel sad or depressed. That’s why AARP created a community where caregivers can connect with experts and other caregivers and can find information and tools to take even better care of the person who once took care of them.

Help out those who are helping others- they have feelings, too, and can burn out. Give them a break, make them dinner, take them out to a movie- something to show you care. Take care of caregivers this month and every month!


Living with Prostate Cancer: It’s Complicated

I guess it’s part of the male provider-protector thing: A recent survey found that men with advanced prostate cancer worry more about burdening their family and friends than about dying. That’s only one surprising fact from a fascinating and sometimes puzzling survey called The Advanced Prostate Cancer Patient and Caregiver Burden of Illness Study. According […]

Caring for a wife with breast cancer takes a heavy toll on men’s health

Men who care for a wife with breast cancer have weaker immune systems, and more physical symptoms, such as headaches and abdominal pain, than did men whose wives had remained disease-free. And the higher the stress levels, the worse the effect on men, according to a new study done at Ohio State University.

Just to be clear: this is not to suggest that men shouldn’t care for their wives. The point is that it’s important to recognize that caregivers spend so much time focusing on the people they’re caring for that they don’t pay any attention to themselves. And the results—whether the caregiver is a man or a woman—can be devastating.
Read the rest of my post at Talking About Men’s Health.