Thanks for caregivers!
November 22, 2015
This is the month to give thanks. Perhaps it's for wonderful friends. Or good health. Maybe that bountiful Thanksgiving meal. But how about a heartfelt gratitude to caregivers?
We think it's time. Even President Barack Obama is on board, having declared November National Family Caregivers Month. "Across our country, more than 60 million Americans take up the selfless and unheralded work of delivering care to seniors or people with disabilities or illnesses. The role they play in our healthcare system is one we must recognize and support," he said in his proclamation. "During National Family Caregivers Month, we thank these tireless heroes for the long, challenging work they perform behind closed doors and without fanfare every day."
So when you're dishing out appreciation this month – add a little something for your caregiver. Perhaps a basket of chocolate goodies. Or a gift certificate for a spa day. A dinner out. And – something that lasts longer and has no calories: a personal alert medical system.
It not only offers a much-needed respite for caregivers but it's a safe way for loved ones to maintain a bit of their independence. These technological wonders have been endorsed by AARP, Aging Parents and Elder Care and award-winning author Gail Sheehy. In her acclaimed guide, Passages In Caregiving, Turning Chaos Into Confidence, Sheehy lists personal alert medical systems among her strategies for helping Mom and Dad. "Most of us who have an elderly mother or father living alone or far away, worry about the nightmarish possibility that they might fall and be left for hours or days….," she writes.
One way of easing the concern, she suggests, are personal medical alert systems
: "With the medical alert systems, the owner simply pushes a button or a battery-operated pendant or bracelet that he or she is wearing. It sends a signal to the response center. Within thirty seconds an associate pulls up a computer screen that lists everything about the person's medical condition. The associate will then phone a neighbor, family member or emergency help depending on the situation."
As the statistics below confirm, being a caregiver is something many of us will experience in our lives. (Statistics provided by The Caregiver Action Network)
* Two out of every five adults are family caregivers - and 39 percent of all adult Americans are caring for a loved one who is sick or disabled – up from 30 percent in 2010.
* More than 15 million family caregivers are providing care to more than 5 million loved ones with Alzheimer's disease.
* As many as 1 million Americans are caring in their homes for service members from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are suffering from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other wounds and illnesses.
* Men are now almost as likely to say they are family caregivers as women are (37 percent of men; 40 percent of women). And 36 percent of younger Americans between ages 18 and 29 are family caregivers as well, including 1 million young people who care for loved ones with Alzheimer's.
* Almost half of family caregivers perform complex medical/nursing tasks for their loved ones – such as managing multiple medications, providing wound care, and operating specialized medical equipment.
Let's hear a round of applause for these kind souls.