I’m excited about AARP's current caregiving awareness campaign, to recognize and support America’s 40 million family caregivers. The campaign coincides with November’s National Family Caregivers Month.
As a caregiver, I’m especially happy to be a part of this effort. I recently appeared on NBC’s Today show, and you can look for me on The Doctors this month as well as on other national and local television programs. Many AARP state offices are organizing events, and I’ll be speaking at several of them.
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Here are some of the caregiver-focused activities AARP has underway.
Telling caregivers’ stories:
- AARP The Magazine has a moving photo essay, A Day in the Life of an American Caregiver, which depicts caregivers across the nation during a typical day. My friend Peter Rosenberger and his wife are profiled, and I can attest that Peter is an awesome caregiver! Check out the video that goes along with the story.
- AARP Bulletin profiled some of those same caregivers more extensively in its November story "The New Faces of Caregiving," which discussed the many and varied challenges facing millennial and sandwich-generation caregivers, caregivers of veterans and dementia patients, and more.
- AARP’s I Heart Caregivers storytelling campaign has created Portraits of Care, to honor and recognize family caregivers across the nation. AARP has randomly selected from each of the 53 U.S. states and territories one caregiver who submitted his or her story and photo to I Heart Caregivers. Those chosen receive a beautiful portrait of themselves and the loved ones they tend to, each pair painted by a different artist.
Offering new resources and support:
- AARP is holding its first free Virtual Caregiving Fair on Nov. 19. Whether you’re new to family caregiving or have been providing care for a long time, there will be something for everyone. It’s easy to attend: Just register online or call 877-926-8300, toll-free, and log on between noon and 4 p.m. ET to view presentations and videos in the virtual auditorium or to connect with exhibitors such as Veterans Affairs and Social Security in the exhibit hall. Also, I’ll be hosting the Mix and Mingle Lounge all afternoon, where you can participate in group discussions and scheduled chats with me and other experts and — most important — other caregivers. There will also be a library with great resources. Check out the list of scheduled sessions and participating organizations.
My new book, AARP’s Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving, is out this month and contains practical tools and tips for caregivers. It’s based on my 30-plus years of professional experience and my ongoing personal caregiving journey. It covers everything from getting organized to caring for you, the caregiver; to health, legal and financial issues; to grief and loss; and even life after caregiving. I hope you’ll find it helpful.
Encouraging acts of kindness for caregivers:
I can personally tell you that even small acts of kindness can make a huge difference in a caregiver’s life. In one of my recent blog posts, I tell a story of unexpected kindness shown to me that completely changed my outlook. To foster more support for family caregivers, AARP has launched the Random Acts of Kindness for Caregivers Contest , which encourages people to help the unpaid caregivers in their lives as well as those they see in the community. Submit your photos, videos and stories at www.aarp.org/caregiverkindness and share on social media using #BeKindToCaregivers. You can submit once a week, and when the contest ends in March, AARP will select 12 people who’ve made a meaningful difference in a caregiver’s life to split a $10,000 cash prize. I hope this effort shows people the many ways they can help lighten our load.
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Amy Goyer is AARP’s family, caregiving and multigenerational issues expert; she spends most of her time in Phoenix, where she is caregiving for her dad, who lives with her. She is the author of AARP’s Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving. Follow Amy on Twitter @amygoyer and on Facebook .
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