It’s that time of year when millions of families begin enjoying new scents from the kitchen, the excitement and anticipation from the children, and the sights and sounds of celebration and merriment from multiple directions.
But the hustle and bustle of the holidays can be especially difficult for those caring for a loved one who is almost totally dependent on them. In fact, about 42 million people around the United States are totally or partially responsible for a family member who is older, sick, disabled or otherwise dependent on them for daily tasks.
At least 21 percent of African Americans — that’s one in five — are among those caregivers. Many still are working and some have had to leave jobs to care for a loved one, according to a study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP.
There is often no road map for the new level of responsibilities. And because caregivers don’t see themselves as caregivers, per se — but rather as sons, daughters, spouses and relatives doing what families do — they may feel lonely, isolated and even confused. Yet, their natural love, caring and sense of responsibility may prevent these family members from asking for help.
So, what is available to them when they need guidance or simply need — and deserve — a break? AARP recognizes the selfless commitment and the difficulties of caregiving. Here’s help that’s readily available:
- The AARP Caregiving Resource Center offers the tools you need to help care for yourself and the ones you love. It also provides opportunities to join an online community of caregivers and learn about local services.
- Your employer may have a program that enables caregiving workers to continue their duties and enhance productivity. Find out. Some may provide flexible scheduling for employees caring for loved ones.
- Eldercare.gov offers guidelines on how adult day care services may help ease your concerns while you’re at work.
The stats show that if you aren’t currently a caregiver, you either have been or will be one at some point. Whether during the holidays or throughout the year, caregivers are like miracle workers in all they do for their families. Though exhausting, this can also be an enormously meaningful accomplishment that deserves many thanks.
Also of Interest
- New Campaign Highlights Holiday Joy, Stress for Caregivers
- Best Bra Tips for 50+ Bodies
- Get Involved: Learn How You Can Give Back
- Join AARP: Savings, resources and news for your well-being
See the AARP home page for deals, savings tips, trivia and more.