Celebrating Our Family Caregivers

November is National Family Caregiver’s Month. Most family members who help their older loved ones don’t see themselves as caregivers. Yet a caregiver is anyone who helps an older person with household chores, errands, personal care, or finances. Most caregivers also don’t realize that caring for themselves is an important part of providing care for someone else. Among all the hardships of providing care to another, a caregiver faces time restraints and stresses that might be physical and/or psychological in nature. Particularly today, given the current economy, a caregiver may also feel the burden of financial stress. The simple truth is you can’t be a good caregiver if you don’t take care of yourself. The following advice comes from my book, The Virginia Nursing Home Survival Guide, which you can obtain from our firm or from Amazon.com.

What You Can Do

Take charge of your life. Don’t let your loved one’s illness or disability always take center stage. While you might fall into a caregiving role because of an unexpected event, somewhere along the line you need to step back and consciously say “I choose to take on this caregiving role.” It goes a long way toward eliminating the feeling of being a victim.

Set realistic goals. Caregiving creates many conflicting demands on your time; it is vital to set realistic goals. Recognize what you can and cannot do. Define your priorities and stick to them as much as you can. You have the right to set limits and, though it is hard, it is okay to say no.

Seek out help from family and friends. When others offer assistance, accept it and suggest specific things they can do. Some caregivers see asking for help as a sign of weakness, failure or inadequacy, when in fact it is just the opposite. Reaching out for assistance before you are beyond your limits is one characteristic of a strong person. While they might not be comfortable helping with bathing and dressing needs, friends and family can help by running errands, shopping for groceries, preparing meals or just visiting. They can call regularly, taking some pressure off you to be the primary social outlet.

Seek out appropriate geriatric medical professionals. A geriatrician is a medical doctor who is specially trained to prevent and manage the unique health concerns of older adults. Older persons may react to illness and disease differently than younger adults. Geriatricians are able to treat older patients, manage multiple disease symptoms, and develop care plans that address the special health care needs of older adults. Geriatricians are typically primary care physicians who are board-certified in either Family Practice or Internal Medicine and have also acquired the additional training necessary to obtain the Certificate of Added Qualifications in Geriatric Medicine.

National Family Caregiver’s Month

The National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) provides education and support to those who are caring for a loved one. Founded in 1993, their motto is “Believe in Yourself, Protect Your Health, Reach Out for Help and Speak Up for Your Rights.”

Fairfax County has regular Free Seminars for Family Caregivers. The seminars take place in October and November and are all geared towards educating the Family Caregiver. Some of the titles include: Planning Quality Time for the Person with Dementia (10/22), End of Life Decisions: What Families Need to Know (10/28) and When Do I Step In (11/5). You can click here to register for any of these free seminars.

The Farr Law Firm is dedicated to helping caregivers by providing outstanding legal services that help preserve assets in order to protect the dignity and integrity of their loved ones.

Free Seminars for Family Caregivers:

National Family Caregivers Association:
http://www.nfcacares.org/

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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