To kick-off National Family Caregivers and Alzheimer's Awareness Month on November 1, AARP's Family and Caregiving Expert Amy Goyer appeared on NBC's TODAY Show with hosts Hoda Kotb and Maria Shriver to discuss the challenges of caring for someone with dementia. More than 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer's or other dementias. Goyer talked about the importance of planning, and offered tips on how caregivers can take care of themselves and deal with caregiver guilt. TODAY also posted a link to AARP's resources for caregivers on the show's website.
As I cared for my parents, helping them to live independently at home as they aged, I learned to listen to the learnings of other family caregivers. Recently, I shared 5 Tips for Caregivers and asked others for their views on our @ AARPAdvocates Facebook page. The comments from fellow caregivers came flooding in. While I wish I could share them all, here are 10 tips from caregivers to caregivers:
While traveling to Erie, Pa., for a town meeting on family caregiving, I was reflecting on my family roots. A little more than 100 years ago, my Lithuanian grandparents immigrated to America and made Shenandoah, Pa., their first hometown. My grandfather worked in the coal mines and my grandmother, fluent in six languages, worked various jobs while raising five children - one of whom was my mom. My grandparents taught me about hard work and perseverance, and my parents taught me all I'd ever need to know about unconditional love and family caregiving.
Through the years, I've had to take time off from work to care for my mom and pop. And I've always been grateful that I worked for an employer that allowed me to take sick leave or to telework in order to be there for my parents. But I know I'm one of the lucky ones. Today, millions of American workers have no paid or unpaid sick leave. Each day they face loss of pay - or loss of their jobs - if they need to care for their loved ones. Yet they still do remarkable things, juggling their work and caregiving tasks. Here are the facts:
As I recently told Ron Fournier of the National Journal , the memories of Mom and Pop are part of what drive me in my work to support family caregivers as they help their loved ones live independently at home. Like most Americans, Mom and Pop wanted to stay at home - and not go into a nursing home or other facility. In their 80s they become first-time homeowners of a one-story house, and I continued in my role as their unofficial caregiver. Without realizing it, I had joined a silent army of now over 42 million family caregivers across the states, safely keeping their loved ones from being readmitted to the hospital, out of costly institutions, and at home.
BREAKING UPDATE: The Hawaii legislature has created a task force to examine the critical role family caregivers serve when their loved ones go into the hospital and then transition home. As a named member of the task force, AARP Hawaii will help evaluate how to implement provisions of the CARE Act as well as the community resources needed for family caregivers to safely care for their loved ones at home. In early 2015, the task force will make a recommendation to best support the 270,000 family caregivers in Hawaii.
Mike is a 55-year-old Mississippian and a family caregiver for his lifelong friend Joe, who suffered a stroke. Mike has found more emotional strength than he knew he had when the reality hit that caring for Joe is a 24-hour-a-day job.
It's a subtle thing. It happens bit by bit...it creeps up and then one time too many of lifting the wheelchair into the trunk and-BAM! -it smacks me flat, usually at the most inopportune time.That's what happened to me last week when my back screamed, "Stop!" I have a history of back problems, but my back hasn't flared up this badly in about 10 years. The timing couldn't be worse. We are packing up my parents' senior living apartment and the movers are scheduled to come in three days. This time, they are moving in with me - back into the home they lived in for 28 years where I have been living for the past three years. This new arrangement will better allow me to care for both my Mom, who has had a stroke and has multiple other health issues, and my Dad, who has dementia.
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