In 1994, the National Family Caregivers Association begin promoting recognition of family caregivers. In 1997, President Bill Clinton signed the first proclamation observing the month of November for family caregivers and every year since then, presidents have signed the proclamation.
According to Whitehouse.gov, President Joe Biden signed a proclamation on Oct. 29, 2021, to observe National Family Caregivers Month in November 2021. Biden is encouraging people to reach out to those who provide care for family members, friends and neighbors.
The theme this year is “Care giving around the Clock”. Care giving consists of bathing, cleaning house, shopping, assisting loved ones to appointments, helping to set up medication, and assisting with finances.
As of 2020, more people over the age of 64 will be living in Ohio than those 20 years old and under, as baby boomers reach their senior years. In Highland County, the population of 60 and over was approximately 12,000 out of approximately 45,000 residents. Many will have a physical, sensory, mental or self-care disability.
Physical limitations include difficulty with walking, climbing steps, reaching, lifting or carrying items. Sensory limitations include blindness and deafness. Mental disabilities consist of difficulty learning, remembering or concentrating. Self-care limitations consist of being able to bath by oneself, dressing, and being able to move around the house.
As the population grows older, more individuals will need care. Care giving is a tough job. Most caregivers are women. They don’t take care of themselves and they don’t see a doctor regularly. Relationships may suffer because along with giving care to a family member, caregivers work outside the home, and some are raising children. Children between the ages of 8 and 13 also take on the responsibility of caring for an adult on a daily basis.
How can you help a caregiver? Offer to walk their dog or take their pets to the vets. If they have children, offer to take care of their children for a while, while the caregiver gets some time to them self. Give a gift certificate for a day at the spa or a pedicure and make sure someone can stay with the family member receiving care. Take them dinner or order something to be delivered.
If you’re handy around the house, offer to make repairs, assist with cleaning house or doing yard work. You can also purchase food staples or toiletries to stock their pantry. With the holidays right around the corner, offer to help decorate for the holidays.
Remember, as a caregiver, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others. Learn how to cope by attending a caregiver conference or a family support group. Accept help from others, check yourself for depression and get plenty of sleep.
Sources for this story included whitehouse.gov https://sc.lib.miamioh.edu, vougaeelderlaw.com, census.gov and nationaltoday.com.
Jackie Wolgamott is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.