Reyes: Celebrate family caregivers this November; appreciation event is Nov. 19 in Avon (column) | VailDaily.com

Reyes: Celebrate family caregivers this November; appreciation event is Nov. 19 in Avon (column)

Brenda Reyes
Valley Voices
Brenda Reyes
Special to the Daily

November has been designated as National Family Caregivers Month, and Eagle Valley Senior Life and other elder-serving organizations in Eagle County would like to recognize and express appreciation to those individuals who provide care for elderly or disabled family members 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days per year.

The Caregiver Action Network (the National Family Caregivers Association) began promoting national recognition of family caregivers in 1994. President Clinton signed the first National Family Caregivers Month Presidential Proclamation in 1997 and every president since has followed suit by issuing an annual proclamation recognizing and honoring family caregivers each November.

The responsibility of family caregivers in our country is growing every year as the senior population grows due to increased longevity. Caregivers are the nation’s largest unpaid work force, and it is estimated that more than 90 million Americans today are family caregivers for their loved ones. That care is valued at more than $375 billion a year, which is almost twice as much as is spent on home care and nursing home services combined.

And although caregiving can be a rewarding experience, it is not without its consequences on caregivers, such as stress, poor health and caregiver burnout. Also, the care they provide is not reimbursed through Medicare/Medicaid, and their out-of-pocket expenses can be substantial.

The motivation for providing care can be varied, including love, guilt, a sense of obligation and fear of what might happen if the caregiver didn’t provide care. Their lives can be a juggling act of working (if they can continue to work outside the home), providing meals and taking care of their own families, which may include their own children, in addition to caring for the elderly or disabled loved one.

Most never expected to be in the role of family caregiver, but with the rising cost of health care services, many are required to learn and provide services once provided by nurses and other health care professionals. Those who have to give up their jobs can also lose their own health care benefits and retirement plans. So, it is essential that caregivers are encouraged to take some time to recharge so they may continue their mission of providing the loving care that only they can provide.

In recognition of the valuable service caregivers provide and in appreciation to family caregivers who care for older family members, Eagle Valley Senior Life will be celebrating caregivers on Monday, Nov. 19, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Sauce on the Creek, located at 101 Fawcett Road, Suite 100, in Avon. Caregivers are encouraged to leave their loved ones who are care recipients at Senior Spot while they attend the luncheon. Senior Spot is held at Eagle River Presbyterian Church, located at 455 Nottingham Ranch Road in Avon.

If you are a concerned citizen who would like to volunteer some time to provide respite for a caregiver, Eagle Valley Senior Life has Activity Buddies who do fun things with those who receive homecare. Or, if you would like to get more information about the caregiver appreciation event, reserve your spot for Nov. 19 or obtain more information about Eagle Valley Senior Life services, call me at 970-977-0188.

Brenda Reyes is the executive director of Eagle Valley Senior Life.