This season is all about being thankful, so it is only fitting that November is National Family Caregivers Month. Sacramento County Senior and Adult Services
and the Caregiver Action Network would like to recognize, honor and thank those who provide care for someone who is aging, disabled or chronically ill. This year’s theme is #BeCareCurious about your loved one’s care to ensure they are happy and healthy. This theme is also an important reminder to be thoughtful of the caregivers and their personal health as this responsibility can be physically and psychologically stressful.
A family caregiver is anyone who helps take care of a family member or friend without any professional training. These caregivers want their loved ones to have the best care possible – at the doctor’s office, at the hospital and at home.
“Family caregivers are instrumental to our society,” said Ruth MacKenzie, Senior and Adult Services Division Manager for the Department of Child, Family and Adult Services. “They fill a gap in our medical system and National Family Caregiver Month is a great way to highlight everything caregivers do for their loved ones. This month, or anytime, thank a family caregiver, show your appreciation as often as you can and step in to assist when possible.”
Senior and Adult Services encourages family caregivers across the country to explore #BeCareCurious, ask questions, explore options and share in the care decisions that affect the health and well-being of their loved ones.
5 things to #BeCareCurious About
Your Loved One’s Goals
You know your loved one better, and spend more time with them, than anyone else. Talk to them about what their goals are for treatment and their care in general. It can be hard to talk about goals when facing a disease, but these talks help make sure your loved ones are getting the care they want.
Is your loved one responding well to treatment? If not, ask your doctor if there are other options. New treatments are available every day. Whether it’s a different dose, a new medication or a new procedure, speak up and ask your doctor if there are options you and your loved one should consider.
The internet is a great research tool, but it can also be full of conflicting, and even dangerous, advice – so don’t stop there! Be curious about that article you just read. Is it from a reliable source? Talk to friends, family and doctors to ask as many questions as possible to learn about your loved one’s condition.
The Care Plan
If your loved one is in the hospital, be sure to ask what happens next. Will they need home care after being discharged? Are there new medications or procedures you will need to manage at home? Will you be trained on what to do and how to do it? A lot of care happens at home and you need to be prepared to provide that care.
Don’t be shy about asking questions about insurance coverage. Is your parents’ Medicare plan the best option or should you change plans during open enrollment? Was a medication switched for a medical reason, or because your insurance no longer covered it? If coverage was denied, what can you do to change their minds?
If you or someone you know is a family caretaker, it is important to check-in with that person regularly as they have taken on a very stressful role. Senior and Adult Services suggests offering to provide “respite,” so the caregiver can have a chance to rest and recharge. Caregiver.org offers helpful self-care tips
for the caregiver.
“If family caretakers aren’t able to take the time needed for self-care, they may experience a health scare themselves,” said MacKenzie. “Caregiver burnout can be associated with serious health issues including depression. Families and communities need to develop sustainable care plans that do not just rely on a single individual.”
Families can look for respite care by asking friends and family or looking at government-funded programs including the U.S. Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Legacy Corps or nonprofits including but not limited to Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. You can also check with adult daycare centers, faith-based organizations, coworkers and online communities.