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November Is National Caregivers Month

November is the month where we take time to recognize and give praise and support to the 78 million people who dedicate their time, often unpaid, caring for a family member in need.

Particularly as we approach the festive season when focus is placed on family and quality time, it is important that we show our appreciation for those who work tirelessly to provide care; whether it be financial, medical, domestic or emotional support. We must never underestimate the strength that caregivers have for providing this support to those people who need it the most, nor the toll that it can take both emotionally and physically upon them.

The devotion and love that these people show to their loved ones therefore quite rightly ought to be celebrated. A Presidential Proclamation declaring November as National Family Caregivers Month provides much recognition for these devoted family members and acts as a backdrop for many national and local organizations to structure events, raise funds, provide support networks and most of all celebrate these wonderful people.

Many caregivers work and also provide care, experiencing conflicts between competing responsibilities. Research indicates caregiving also takes a significant emotional, physical, and financial toll. With nearly half of all caregivers over age 50, many are vulnerable to a decline in their own health. Studies show that coordinated support services can reduce caregiver depression, anxiety, and stress, and enable them to provide care longer, which avoids or delays the need for costly institutional care.

FIVE REASONS

CAREGIVING IS TOUGH

¯ Where’s the other half? Over half of family caregivers are women.

¯ Relationships may suffer. One of out of every four caregivers reports diminished family relationships because of caregiving a loved one.

¯ No wonder you’re tired. Most caregivers work outside the home either part- or full-time in addition to their caregiving responsibilities.

¯ Children do it too. Over a million American young people, aged eight to 18, care for an adult relative on a daily basis.

¯ It’s hard to do self-care. Nearly 70% of caregivers report they don’t see their doctor regularly because of their responsibilities.

The Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services has joined forces with the Alzheimer’s Association of Western NY, the Westfield YWCA and the Westfield Rotary to sponsor a pilot caregiver program that will offer education and training for younger caregivers who are currently, or in the future will be responsible to help care for a family member whom they love. More about this caregiver training will be available in the near future. Caregiving comes in many ways, so even our local waitresses, grocery store clerks and other service oriented workers should consider themselves caregivers since many of their clients are older adults. There is much for everyone to learn when it comes to caregiving even if you don’t live with the person you are caring for! For more information on this and other caregiver resources offered by the Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services, call our NY Connects Helpline at (716) 753-4582.

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