By Judi Bonilla
On Friday, November 1st, National Family Caregivers Month officially begins. If you’ve ever been a caregiver you know the emotional, mental, and physical health problems that accompany caring for a loved one.
As our population ages the need for caregivers has increased and many of us our stepping into caregiving roles. This year the Pew Research Center reported:
- 39% of U.S. adults are caring for a loved one with significant health issues.
- 36% of U.S. adults said they provided unpaid care to an adult relative or friend in the past year.
- 32% of U.S. caregivers are Hispanic.
So, what does caregiving mean to you?
Be prepared. The facts are in your lifetime. “You’ve either been a caregiver. You’re going to be a caregiver. You’re going to need a caregiver.” Remember “It’s not if, It’s When.”
From the Caregiver Action Network, “Maybe it started slowly. You visited your parents and started to worry about them living alone. You found yourself taking over more of the responsibilities for your spouse. Maybe it happened all of a sudden. Mom slipped and broke her hip. The neighbors called to say that dad was wandering around looking lost. However it began, you are now a family caregiver. ”
Caregiving is a role we often assume when a loved one needs assistance, care or help managing everyday tasks. We step in the role untrained and with no experience. All families will be involved with caregiving at some time.
Before the inevitable happens begin the conversation now. Ask now what role each of you will play. Who will make phone calls? Who will run errands? Who will manage medical paperwork? Who will provide hands on caregiving?
Every morning we make choices on the outcomes we want. Go to work, to provide a service and earn a salary. Put on a seatbelt, to avoid injury. Connect with a friend, to get and provide support.
Caregiving is similar — we want the best for our familias, to love and be loved.
Judi Bonilla is an aging expert, educator and social entrepreneur.