10 Ways to Volunteer with Family Caregivers

This is a guest post by Heather Taylor. Taylor is a freelance writer, consultant and radio producer.  Since January 2011, she’s also happily served as a job coach in the AARP Foundation WorkSearch Program,  helping adults aged 50+ who are unemployed, underemployed or career-changers to find satisfying work. You can follow her on twitter at @findingthejobs

Heather Taylor

Quick!  What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word November?

For lots of us, November means the Thanksgiving feast.  It’s also a month we associate with the sights, tastes and smells of delicious food and spending time with family and friends.

But there’s an “extra helping” of the Thanksgiving spirit that Suzanne Mintz would like us to consider.  And that’s in recognition of the more than 65 million unsung heroes of family life:  family caregivers.

Mintz is co-founder, President and CEO of the National Family Caregivers Association,  a nonprofit that focuses on supporting family caregiving.  NFCA coordinates National Family Caregivers Month, “a time to offer thanks, support, education and empowerment to family caregivers.”

How can you get started volunteering to help family caregivers?  Mintz and the NFCA offer these 10 simple ways to do it:

1. Offer a few hours of respite time to a family caregiver so they spend time with friends, or simply relax.

2. Send a card of appreciation or a bouquet of flowers to brighten up a family caregiver’s day.

3. Encourage local businesses to offer a free service for family caregivers through the month of November.

4. Help a family caregiver decorate their home for the holidays or offer to address envelopes for their holiday cards.

5. Offer comic relief! Purchase tickets to a local comedy club, give a family caregiver your favorite funny movie to view, or provide them an amusing audio book to listen to while doing their caregiving activities.

6. Find 12 different family photos and have a copy center create a monthly calendar that the family caregiver can use to keep track of appointments and events.

7. Offer to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for a caregiving family in your community, so they can just relax and enjoy the holiday.

8. A United States postage stamp honoring the more than 50 million family caregivers in America is officially “under consideration” by the U.S. Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee. Sign the petition at www.thefamilycaregiver.org and ask others to sign the petition letter.

9. Help a family caregiver find information and resources on the internet or to locate a local support group.

10. Ask your local elected official to issue a proclamation celebrating National Family Caregivers Month.

Next post:  November:  An Extra Helping of Thanksgiving (Part 2)