As we close out this month of gratitude, it is important to note that November is also National Family Caregiver Month. During this month we honor those who provide unconditional support to a loved one who requires ongoing, sometimes even daily assistance, due to a health crisis, chronic illness, or mental or physical disability. National Family Caregiver Month gives us the opportunity to recognize those who have taken on a difficult and thankless role.
Caregiving is not a 9-5 job; there is no “clocking in” and “clocking out,” no weekends or vacation time. It is seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Caregivers do not seek recognition or glory—they do it because they love the person they are caring for, and oftentimes, because no one else can.
For a caregiver, self-care is often put on the bottom of the list. Things like the way one looks in the mirror or whether or not there is time to match your socks is of little to no importance. As we board planes for holidays and family reunions, we hear the instructions that you must put on your own oxygen mask before putting it on others around you, and the same goes for caregiving. I have told caregivers in the hospital environment time and time again that they cannot be fully present for your child and loved ones if you do not take the time to care for yourself. Whether it is taking a break for a cup of coffee; a quick power nap; or a walk outside around the block for fresh air – caring for oneself is a necessity.
This month, I encourage everyone to reflect upon who in their lives is a caregiver and how they can be recognized for their tireless efforts.
Ways you can acknowledge the caregivers in your life:
- Offer to take over the caregiving role so they can take a break, even for just an hour or two.
- Schedule a massage, manicure, pedicure, or other means for pampering—spoil them a little bit!
- Pay them a compliment or acknowledge how hard they work for their loved one.
Honor a caregiver today and every day. It will matter more than you even know.
Caregivers are committed; they are selfless and they deserve appreciation, love, and recognition!
Jesse Guzik, MS, CCLS
Child/Youth Program Coordinator at CSCCNJ