November is National Family Caregivers Month

November is National Family Caregivers Month. Now more than ever, those who care for an aging loved one deserve recognition for all that they do for their families.

National Family Caregivers Month is a time to recognize, support, and empower family caregivers. Caring for a family member is one of the most difficult but rewarding responsibilities a person can take on.

The pandemic has made supporting aging loved ones even more challenging. This November, take some time to recognize the people in your life who provide care to a senior.

Caregiving during COVID-19

Family caregivers manage health emergencies, judge priorities, and often balance the needs of seniors, children, and spouses. Though restrictions are beginning to lessen with the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine, the pandemic has put a lasting strain on those caring for elderly loved ones.

Adjusting to the “new normal” and knowing what is best for your family has not been easy. If you are a caregiver, it’s important to recognize that you may not have all of the answers, but there are support systems and resources you can lean on. Accept help from others, and don’t forget to take care of yourself during these difficult times.

Family caregivers may help aging loved ones with preparing meals, shopping and doctor visits, cleaning, personal care, paying bills, and companionship.

The pandemic has made many of these tasks more difficult due to the need to social distance. Seniors are at a greater risk of experiencing complications from the virus. Adjusting your care plan may be necessary to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Do you know someone caring for an aging loved one? This Caregivers Appreciation Month, take a few moments to reflect on some situations family caregivers may be going through.

Visiting seniors at home

Spending time with aging loved ones is time well spent. Our senior family members offer us wisdom, memories from the past, and new experiences to cherish.

These days, spending time with seniors can be difficult. Social distancing does not allow us to gather like before, and it can be hard on both the elderly and family members.

Isolation can lead to poor mental and physical health. Be sure to call in on senior loved ones often to check in. You may need to get creative and go digital. Teach seniors how to use devices with video calls so that you can see each other virtually.

Ensuring seniors are getting the right nutrition

If you’re a family caregiver, you may have been preparing meals for loved ones before the pandemic. Now, it may be risky to be going into their homes every day to cook for them.

An alternative solution could be to prepare meals ahead of time at your house and take them over. Set up a small table or chair outside of their door to leave the meals. Be sure that your kitchen and car are sanitized before preparing and dropping off meals.

You could also sign your loved one up for a home-delivered meal program. For example, Meals On Wheels provides nutritious, affordable meals to the homes of seniors who have a hard time preparing their meals. Deliveries are contactless and volunteers use personal protective equipment to keep seniors safe.

Managing health

To avoid COVID-19, seniors want to refrain from going out as much as possible. This may mean changing the ways they receive healthcare.

Many healthcare professionals offer consultations over the phone. Check with the doctor’s office and insurance plan to see if you can use virtual appointments.

You should also check to see if you can get prescriptions delivered at home. This will help you avoid making a trip to the pharmacy for medications.

Always listen to the advice of your healthcare professional before making any changes to a care plan.

Keeping up with costs

Many family caregivers provide some financial support for their aging loved ones. But, the pandemic has caused many individuals to lose their job.

You may be eligible for assistance while you look for work. Your county’s Department of Job and Family Services can help you navigate and enroll in programs such as SNAP and unemployment. Seniors may also be eligible for programs that help them receive money for food, housing, transportation, and more.

Try not to get discouraged as you look for a new job. Freshen up your resume and have someone review it for errors. Reach out to your circle of friends, family, and former co-workers to see if they can refer you to an open position.

If you are 55 years or older and having a hard time getting back into the workforce, the Senior Community Service Employment Program may be able to help. SCSEP provides paid job training to individuals 55 and older in 38 Ohio counties. While you learn new skills safely at home, you also develop a personalized plan to reach your goals.

Avoiding institutionalization

One of the toughest decisions for a family caregiver is whether a loved one should remain at home or move to a nursing facility. The pandemic has made the decision even tougher this year.

Consultations from outside, unbiased individuals may help your family make the best choice. A social worker or healthcare professional can assess the situation and provide advice.

If you choose to care for your family member from home, you may need to make some adjustments. Be sure that your house does not have any hazards that could cause a fall, such as blocked walkways, overturned rug corners, or power cords running across the floor. You may want to install handrails in your shower and on stairs. You should also sanitize high touch surfaces often, such as counters, door handles, and light switches.

Ways to recognize caregivers

November is the time to recognize and support family caregivers. According to estimates from the National Alliance for Caregiving, during the past year, 65.7 million Americans served as family caregivers for an ill or disabled relative.

With so many people caring for loved ones, it’s important to take a moment to say thanks and relieve some of the pressures they may be feeling.

Here are five things you can do to recognize a caregiver in your life.

Help with tasks. Family caregivers juggle many responsibilities. Lend a hand with chores such as cleaning, laundry, or grocery shopping.

Offer a break. Caregivers do not often make time to do the things they love. Offer to take over caregiving tasks during a certain time period so that they can go to the gym, take a nap, or catch up with a friend.

Write a note. Sometimes, simple gestures mean a lot. Write a note of gratitude or send a card to show someone that you care.

Help navigate support. There are tons of resources out there to help seniors and caregivers. Navigating them can take a lot of time. Help a caregiver sort through resources in your community to find relief and help.

Listen. Caregiving can take a lot out of a person. Take the time to understand their needs. Just listening to a caregiver’s struggles, doubts, and successes can help alleviate some stress and brighten their day.

Are you a family caregiver? Let us help you care for your loved one with house cleaning, personal care, and home-delivered meals. We take a holistic approach to helping seniors age with dignity and independence. Contact 330-515-5605 or for a consultation.

*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.

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