Eagan, Minn. (Nov. 14, 2012) —
National Family Caregivers Month is dedicated to the compassionate people who care for and support the ill, disabled or elderly. This November, CaringBridge, the social network doing social good, is helping people recognize those selfless individuals by providing tips and resources for family and friends to connect with and support caregivers.
Caregivers fulfill a vital role in the lives of families and loved ones across the country and make up more than 65 million people in the United States, according to the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA). That equates to one in five people caring for another person or child and helping in various ways – from managing finances to planning meals to caring for pets or simply listening.
The value of all that informal, unpaid care totals an estimated $450 billion dollars annually. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Public Policy Institute, that’s more than Wal-Mart sells in a year, more than total Medicaid spending in 2009 and totals almost $1,500 for every person in the United States (307 million people as of July 1, 2009).
But some caregivers often have difficulty finding time for their own day-to-day tasks and managing stress.
“We’re continuously amazed by caregivers. They ask for nothing in return and spend an average of 21 hours a week caring for someone else – often on top of jobs, other family responsibilities and personal to-do lists,” said Sona Mehring, CEO and founder of CaringBridge. “Our Sites and SupportPlanners are great caregiver support and offer ways for caregivers to connect and receive support from around the world.”
Just in time for National Family Caregivers Month, CaringBridge has released five tips to help families support caregivers. The nonprofit social network is encouraging people to celebrate those who provide valuable care on a day-to-day basis with the below tips and resources.
Lend an ear – You can show your support in many ways but one of the best is simply listening. Bring over a favorite snack, make a cup of tea or pot of coffee and settle in for good conversation. The topic can go anywhere, but the caregiver in your life will feel a renewed sense of community and support.
Offer to help – Caregivers assist in all aspects of providing care on a day-to-day basis and may not be vocal about asking for help for themselves. Instead, offer to help the caregiver in your life by raking leaves, picking up kids from school or creating a meal planner. Expand the community and include multiple family members and friends by starting a SupportPlanner, a free online calendar offered by CaringBridge to help you coordinate care and helpful tasks. To learn about how you can start your own SupportPlanner, visit CaringBridge.
Meet with others – There are many resources for caregivers to learn about how to handle new situations, talk with other caregivers to get caregiver advice and connect with medical professionals. Offer to help find the right caregiver resource for them, attend a support group meeting and be supportive. A caregiver is not being selfish if professionals, family members or friends provide support – make sure they know that.
Say “thank you” – A simple and easy way to show your appreciation. Don’t forget to say “thank you” during November, and every other day of the year.
Share the story – For those who aren’t caregivers, it may be difficult to understand the responsibilities of providing care for someone. Suggest the caregiver in your life create a blog to share their story and inform family and friends. CaringBridge Sites provide a safe place for people to share thoughts and experiences and keep loved ones updated on progress, whether a caregiver is writing about their own day-to-day or the experience of providing care for someone. The Sites are free to use and can be an invaluable communication tool. Once a caregivers’ community knows what they need, help and support will follow. To learn more about starting a personalized free website, visit CaringBridge.
CaringBridge is a nonprofit offering many ways for people to care for each other during any type of health event. Its mission is to amplify the love, hope and compassion in the world, making each health journey easier. For more information, visit www.CaringBridge.org.