November is National Family Caregivers Month

family caregivers

November 2016 Theme: “Take Care to Give Care”

November is National Family Caregivers Month. If you are a family caregiver, you know how important it is to take care of your sick or elderly loved one. But what you might not know is just how important it is to take care of yourself first.

This year’s theme for National Family Caregivers Month is “Take Care to Give Care.” It focuses on the concept of self-care.

The first rule of taking care of others: take care of yourself first. Caregiving can be a rewarding experience, but it is also physically and emotionally demanding. The stress of dealing with caregiving responsibilities leads to a higher risk of health issues among the Nation’s 90 million family caregivers. So as a family caregiver, remember to pay attention to your own physical and mental wellness, and get proper rest and nutrition. Only by taking care of yourself can you be strong enough to take care of your loved one. You really do need to “take care to give care!”

Caregiving can be a stressful job. Most family caregivers say they feel stressed providing care for a loved one. With all of their caregiving responsibilities – from managing medications to arranging doctor appointments to planning meals – caregivers too often put themselves last.

The stress of caregiving impacts your own health. One out of five caregivers admit they have sacrificed their own physical health while caring for a loved one. Due to stress, family caregivers have a disproportionate number of health and emotional problems. They are twice as likely to suffer depression and are at increased risk for many other chronic conditions.

Did you know:

  • 23% of family caregivers caring for loved ones for 5 years or more report their health is fair or poor.
  • Stress of family caregiving for persons with dementia has been shown to impact a person’s immune system for up to three years after their caregiving ends thus increasing their chances of developing a chronic illness themselves.
  • Nearly three quarters (72%) of family caregivers report not going to the doctor as often as they should and 55% say they skip doctor appointments for themselves. 63% of caregivers report having poor eating habits than non-caregivers and 58% indicate worse exercise habits than before caregiving responsibilities.
  • 20% of employed female caregivers over 50 years old report symptoms of depression compared to 8% of their non-caregiving peers.
  • 40% to 70% of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression with approximately a quarter to half of these caregivers meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression.
  • More than 1 in 10 (11%) of family caregivers report that caregiving has caused their physical health to deteriorate.
  • A wife’s hospitalization increased her husband’s chances of dying within a month by 35%. A husband’s hospitalization boosted his wife’s mortality risk by 44%.
  • Family caregivers experiencing extreme stress have been shown to age prematurely. This level of stress can take as much as 10 years off a family caregiver’s life.

What Can I Do To Care For Myself?

Proper nutrition helps promote good health. Ensuring that you are getting proper nutrition is key to help maintain your strength, energy and stamina, as well as strengthening your immune system. Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the most powerful things you can do to take care of yourself and keep a positive attitude overall.

Ensuring good nutrition for your loved one helps make care easier. As many as half of all older adults are at risk for malnutrition. Good nutrition can help maintain muscle health, support recovery, and reduce risk for re-hospitalization – which may help make your care of a loved one easier.

Remember: “Rest. Recharge. Respite.” People think of respite as a luxury, but considering caregivers’ higher risk for health issues from chronic stress, those risks can be a lot costlier than some time away to recharge. The chance to take a breather, the opportunity to re-energize, is vital in order for you to be as good a caregiver tomorrow as you were today.

During National Family Caregivers Month,
we remind family caregivers that
to be strong enough to care for your loved one, you must

Take Care to Give Care!

Reposted from Caregiver Action Network

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