It was a few days before Christmas when our family got the news that Mom would be in the hospital for the holidays. Family caregiving can be tough enough, but somehow it is a bit tougher when your loved one is in the hospital. My siblings and I sprang into action to develop a list of people who could visit Mom in the hospital on Christmas. We thought of presents like a new robe and slippers, a hair appointment when she came home to us, some music to lift her spirits. When we visited the hospital on Christmas Eve, Mom handed us her Christmas wish list. “Please get me everything on the list,” she said. On the list — a fruit basket, chocolates, restaurant gift certificates, lottery tickets and more. “It’s for the nurses and staff. I need to thank them tomorrow.” And, with that simple statement, Mom reminded us of the spirit of the season — it’s in giving that we receive.
Every day, 40 million Americans give so much of themselves — caring for their older parents, spouses and other loved ones so they can live independently at home. They help with bathing and dressing, meals, transportation, finances — even medical and nursing tasks, like wound care and managing medications. It’s a labor of love, to be sure, and often more than a full-time job.
More support for caregivers
Without a doubt, family caregivers could use some help, commonsense solutions to make big responsibilities a little bit easier. This year, AARP fought for family caregivers in state capitals across the country, successfully getting 38 laws passed in 31 states. But we’re not stopping there. In 2016, we will continue to fight for you and your family — for more support, help at home, workplace flexibility, training, financial protection and more. Supporting family caregivers is a priority for AARP because it is a priority for all of us.
To all family caregivers, I know the holidays can often bring added stress, so here are a few tips holiday from caregivers for caregivers. I wish you and your families a safe, warm, and joyful holiday season. And, remember, my lesson from Mom, “It is in giving that we receive.”
If you’re a family caregiver, you’re not alone.
- To stay up to date or to get involved with AARP’s caregiving advocacy in the states, sign up for the AARP Advocates e-newsletter or visit your state Web page.
- For tools and resources, visit aarp.org/caregiving.
- To share your story and connect with others, visit aarp.org/iheartcaregivers.
- To find out how AARP is fighting for you, check out aarp.org/SupportCaregivers.
Elaine Ryan is the vice president of state advocacy and strategy integration (SASI) for AARP. She leads a team of dedicated legislative staff members who work with AARP state offices to advance advocacy with governors and state legislators, helping people 50-plus attain and maintain their health and financial security.
Follow Elaine on Twitter: @RoamTheDomes