I have not been a caregiver in the sense that many are. But if the statistics hold, one day I may be. The number of adults serving as caregiver to a parent, a spouse, or another family member is enormous.
With more of us living longer, the number needing care for illnesses such as Alzheimer’s or other dementia, stroke, or other brain disorders is only getting larger. Numbers can’t describe the emotional, financial, and physical toll caregiving takes on one’s life.
Not having experienced caregiving myself I’m sure anything I say would be inadequate to honor those who take on the responsibility for caring for a loved one. But I do want to say Thank You!
Thank you to my old college classmate who now spends most of her time living apart from her husband to care for her aging mother with Alzheimer’s.
Thank you to my friend who assists her mother in caring for her father with dementia while parenting her own two children.
Thank you to our colleague in broadcasting who brought his mother with Alzheimer’s into his home, and now rarely sleeps through the night in order to be sure his mother is safe.
Thank you to the thousands, no – millions, who give so much of their own life to help those who may never be able to say Thank You in return.
If you know a caregiver, tell them Thank You! And support them in any way you can. It may be offering to sit with their loved one while they take a much-needed walk alone. It may be doing the occasional errand, or just being a listening ear.
To those of you who are caregivers, remember that Someone sees you! If you feel overwhelmed, or guilty, or exhausted – He knows. And He will remember, and reward you.
And remember that you are not alone. Perhaps some of these resources can be helpful:
The Caregiver’s Voice: the independent voice for family and professional caregivers of adults with brain impairment from Alzheimer’s, stroke, related illnesses, or trauma.
Empowered Caregiver Network: fostering understanding of the needs of family caregivers worldwide. A monthly virtual support group makes experts available to caregivers as well.
Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver’s Questionnaire: a free online assessment tool for loved ones and caregivers if you are concerned your loved one may have Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s Association: information on research, clinical trials, advocacy, and more.
If you’re a caregiver, let this be one small Thank You. You may not be able to change the world, but to one person you are the world!
Your turn: Do you know a caregiver? Are you a caregiver? What kind of help do you need? What kind of help can you offer? I’d love to hear from you.
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