October 2015

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests
but each of you to the interests of others.”

Philippians 2:3-4

Greetings in the name of Christ;

How thankful we should all be for caregivers, whether they are family members, family friends, neighbors, or professional caregivers. Whether they are caring for our parents, siblings, children, or even our pets.

Caregivers help their loved ones stay organized and get them to all of their many doctor appointments and remember all of the questions to ask the doctor. They help their loved ones stay calm in times of stress. Caregivers provide love and support throughout the process.

This message is early, as National Family Caregivers Month is in November, not in October, but care giving is an essential job and can sometimes be pretty thankless. We should show our appreciation and honor those that provide care giving throughout the year.

Rosalyn Carter is credited with saying “There are only four kinds of people in the world, those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”

Being a caregiver is never easy, but being thrust into the role of care giving for a family member is especially difficult.

Care giving puts extra demands on the time and energy of those providing care giving, especially those that are taking on additional duties or juggling work and family demands along with their care giving. For many, the first thing to go is time to have a life outside of work and home.

While there can be tremendous benefits to being a family caregiver, there can be hardships as well. Caregivers are giving, selfless and compassionate people, who generally put the needs of the person receiving care above their own.

The Family Caregivers Alliance provides some interesting facts:

  • On average, caregivers spend 20.4 hours per week providing care.
  • 70% working caregivers suffer work-related difficulties due to their dual care giving roles.
  • Predominately single women caring for elderly parents find that positive activities in their daily life are reduced by 27.2% as a result of care giving responsibilities.
  • 17% of caregivers feel their health in general has gotten worse as a result of their care giving responsibilities.
  • Caring for persons with demands is reported to impact a person’s immune system for up to 3 years after their care giving experience ends, increasing their chances of developing a chronic illness.
  • 40% to 70% of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression with about a quarter to half of these caregivers meeting the diagnostic criteria for major depression.

Care giving can be tiring and stressful. If you are caring for others, it is easy to forget to care for yourself. While it may be difficult to find time to focus on yourself and your needs, it is important that you do so to prevent frustration and burnout.

Make Time For Yourself

You may feel guilty about needing or wanting time out for rest, socialization and fun. However, everyone deserves regular and ongoing breaks, including caregivers. The important point is to allow yourself to take a break from care giving.

Take Care of Yourself

Although care giving may make it difficult to find time for yourself, it is important to eat well, exercise, get a good night’s sleep and attend to your own medical needs. When you do not take care of yourself, you are prone to increased anxiety; depression, frustration and physical distress that will make it more difficult to continue providing care.

Seek Outside Support

Sharing your feelings with a counselor, pastor, a support group, or with another caregiver in a similar situation can be a great way to release stress and get helpful advice.

For all the family members and friends of caregivers, take a moment to thank them for what they do. Think of how you may be able to step in and lighten the burden every now and again.

In faithful service,
Don Baker