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Your Health
A Noozhawk partnership with Cottage Health

November Is National Family Caregivers Month

Caregiving can take its toll, so it's important to recognize and support those who take care of loved ones

November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to thank, support, educate and empower family caregivers.

According to the National Family Caregivers Association, more than 65 million people, or about 30 percent of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one.

Many individuals in need of care — including the elderly and disabled people — would have difficulty remaining safely in their homes without the support of their relatives and caregivers. The NFCA began to honor family caregivers in 1994 to draw attention to the many challenges facing them, advocate for stronger public policy to address family caregiving issues and raise awareness about community programs that support family caregivers.

President Bill Clinton signed the first proclamation of National Family Caregivers Month in 1997, and every president since then has recognized National Family Caregivers Month every November.

“Whether caring for a parent, relative or friend, the nation’s caregivers selflessly devote their time and energy to provide for the health and well-being of a beloved family member,” said Larry Kreider, owner of Right at Home of Santa Barbara. “During National Family Caregivers Month, we honor the individuals who care for family members who could not otherwise look after themselves.”

Caregiving takes its toll physically and emotionally. Caregivers tend to their loved ones’ health and well-being but often neglect their own health. The NFCA stated that 23 percent of family caregivers who provide aid for loved ones for five years or more report their health as fair or poor.

“The best way to ensure you will continue to be there for your loved one is to take care of yourself,” Kreider said. “Stay in touch with friends and family members, as they provide support to help you cope with the demands of caregiving. Exercise and eat a well-balanced diet. Incorporate humor into your day. And most important, seek help when you feel overwhelmed. Right at Home can provide respite services so you can take time for yourself and get the physical and mental rest you need.”

If you are a family caregiver, the NFCA’s Web site, NFCACares.org, is a valuable resource for information, support and advice.

Remember to take time this month to celebrate who you are and the importance of what you are doing. While November may be the official month to recognize your efforts as a family caregiver, every month — and every day — is one in which you make a difference in the life of a loved one.

— Larry Kreider is the owner of Right at Home of Santa Barbara. For more information, click here, call 805.962.0555 or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Sign up for Right at Home’s free adult caregiving eNewsletter, Caring Right at Home.

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