November is America’s National Family Caregivers Month, a time set aside by presidential proclamation to recognize and celebrate the nearly 66 million family caregivers in our country. These individuals, who include spouses, parents, adult children, friends and neighbors, tirelessly assist loved ones with a disability, serious illness or limitations of aging. Caregivers serve quietly and selflessly every day in homes, assisted living centers, hospitals and other places from cities to rural settings.
Family caregivers are the unsung heroes in our country, and unfortunately, far too many caregivers feel isolated as they juggle their own health, careers and other responsibilities to care for their loved ones. We at Right at Home understand the mix of fatigue and emotions involved in caring well for a loved one. We understand how family caregivers can feel overwhelmed and alone. We are here to connect caregivers with a growing network of free support, programs and resources dedicated just to them as caregivers.
Dozens of organizations and online resources are available to family caregivers. The following are a few:
· Family Caregiver Alliance offers services and publications based on caregiver needs at the local, state and national levels. The group’s website at www.caregiver.org offers a plethora of information from caregiving tips and fact sheets to personal stories and newsletters. You also can call the National Center on Caregiving located in San Francisco at 800-445-8106.
· National Alliance for Caregiving is a nonprofit coalition of national organizations. Their website at www.caregiving.org connects family caregivers with information, videos, books and more that the Alliance reviews and approves as beneficial information for caregivers.
· National Family Caregivers Association educates, supports and empowers caregivers with this core message: Believe in yourself, protect your health, reach out for help and speak up for your rights. Based in Maryland, the Association can be reached at 1-800-896-3650 or at www.nfcacares.org.
· Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services offers a federal website, www.medicare.gov/caregivers, with easy access to useful information about Medicare and other proven resources to help with family caregiving. The site includes links to partner organizations and essential caregiver information.
For a local list of caregiver services and organizations, caregivers can contact county government agencies such as the Area Agency on Aging and Health Services Agency. The social service department of local hospitals and clinics or adult daycare centers and faith-based agencies are other avenues for learning about services and programs available to family caregivers and care recipients.
Family caregivers need and deserve encouragement and assistance in the challenges they face. All of us who champion the special role of caregiving know how valuable it is for family caregivers to have handy resources that offer the best care possible to loved ones so they can maintain their own personal commitments, health and well-being. I encourage our entire community to recognize the dedication and loving attention of caregivers they know. Tell them ‘thank you’ and lend a hand, not just during National Family Caregivers Month, but any time of year.
The Modesto office of Right at Home is a locally owned and operated franchise office of Right at Home, Inc., serving the communities of Modesto, Turlock, Ceres, Riverbank, Oakdale, Manteca, Ripon, Stockton, Escalon and Tracy.