Respite: Care for Caregivers

The theme for National Family Caregivers Month is Respite: Care for Caregivers. It's a universal theme. Each of us has been a caregiver, needed a caregiver or loved someone who was a caregiver at some time in our lives.

When I think of family caregivers, what pops to mind is what I call the oxygen mask speech. Before taking off for a flight on a commercial airplane, passengers are given instructions by a flight attendant who tells them that if the air pressure in the cabin changes for any reason, an oxygen mask will be released to each person.

Passengers who are flying with small children or people who would need assistance in putting on the masks are told that it's important for them to put on their own masks before assisting the other person.

This makes perfect sense, but have you ever been on a plane when the oxygen masks burst forth? If you have, it's easy to understand how the caretakers often panic and immediately attempt to help the persons in their care, despite the advice they just received. In the same way, sometimes caregivers become so involved with the comfort and safety of the ones for whom they care, they neglect to care for themselves.

In the airplane scenario, the flight attendant or the guy sitting next to the caretaker is often the one who assists her in putting on her mask.

This reminds us that family caretakers often need our help and illustrates why it's a great idea to designate special times, such as the month of November, to remind caregivers to find ways to care for themselves, and remind their friends, neighbors and family members to support them in their selfless task.

9558bIn a Presidential Proclamation for National Family Caregivers Month 2015, President Barack Obama said, "Every day, caregivers across our country answer the call and lift up the lives of loved ones who need additional support. During National Family Caregivers Month, let us honor their contributions and pledge to continue working toward a future where all caregivers know the same support and understanding they show for those they look after."

To learn how guided imagery can help caregivers and the ones who love them, read Belleruth's blog post, A New Super-Strength Stress-Saving Pack for National Caregiver Month!

For helpful tips and links read the Caregiver Action Network's Ten Tips for Family Caregivers.

Tell us your experiences with caregiving. As always, we love hearing from you. If you are a family caregiver, we at Health Journeys commend you, not just during November, but always.

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