Miller: How you can help caregivers
November is National Family Caregivers Month. Why should we care? Because chances are either you or someone you know is a family caregiver or you will be in the future.
Family caregivers are us. More than one in five Americans provide care to a loved one without training, support or financial assistance. I am one of them. My mother, who is 98, has been living with me for five years.
For me, it has been one of my most rewarding and challenging roles. I am also involved with a local organization, Caregiver Connections, and have had the good fortune to connect with a whole new community of other family caregivers who get it and are huge supports.
For example, they don’t tell me, “Why don’t you put your Mom in a nursing home.” Or “You need to take care of yourself.” Or “I could never do that — I don’t know how you do it.”
Like many things, it is a difficult thing to understand unless you have gone through it. This month, however, is an opportunity to become more aware of the family caregivers around you.
Are you a family caregiver in need of support? You can get help through Caregiver Connections at GetCaregiverConnections.org. Or do you know someone who is a family caregiver? Do you understand?
Often, the caregiver loses some of their circle of friends because they are not as free to do what they want anymore and therefore stop getting out. Even other family members don’t often understand.
I would love a gift certificate from them now and then for a massage versus them telling me I need to take care of myself (with money I don’t have, in part because I’m a caregiver). You can also support family caregivers with a donation to Caregiver Connections on Eagle County Gives Day, which is Dec. 7, or you can schedule your donation now at EagleCoGives.org.
But this isn’t a “woe is me” story. I have had some very special moments with my mom and will treasure every one of them. I know she is getting the best care possible, which gives me peace of mind. I see her enjoying life at 98, and it fills my heart.
Shortly after she moved in with me — when she was 93 after living in New York — she was looking out the window at our beautiful surroundings and said, “You know, this has opened up a whole new world for me.” You and me both, Mom — you and me both.
Wendy Miller is the interim executive director of Caregiver Connections: Resources for Senior Care. Reach her at 970-445-0312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.