This post to celebrate National Family Caregiver Month is sponsored by One2One Network. All opinions are our own.
Did you know that approximately 42 million people in the US between ages 40 and 60- primarily women- are tasked with caring for their aging parents? Being a caregiver can take a tremendous toll on a person. When I was a nursing student, we learned a lot about “caregiver role strain.” Since I was going to school to be an LPN, it was assumed that I would work in a nursing home after graduation (many hospitals are hiring only RNs, the majority of LPNs work in caregiver roles now). It was important for us to be able to recognize the strain that a caregiver experiences not only so we could help families cope with it, but also because it had the potential to affect us as nurses as well.
When You’re Tasked with Caring for Your Parent
I learned first-hand about the strain that being a caregiver can have when my mom broke her leg four years ago. My mother is incredibly independent. She was only in her early 50s when it happened. It happened on Christmas Eve, of all times. I had a 3-year-old son and was going through a split with my ex-husband. On top of all that, I was the only person able to take care of my mom. Fortunately, we live with her, so I didn’t have to uproot my son to move in or anything.
My mom was bedridden for a good month and extremely limited in her movements for about three months. That’s just a short time compared to those who spend years taking care of their parents, but it was stressful at times. First, I had to give her injections every day to prevent blood clots. Lucky for her, I had at least made it to the shot-giving portion of nursing school before leaving the program! Also lucky, I did my clincals on an orthopedic floor at the hospital, so I knew how to handle broken bones.
She was a good patient. I lucked out. Sure, she got frustrated at times. I think it was hard for her to have to rely on me for everything. That feeling of being stuck in bed and completely at another person’s mercy has to be a bit overwhelming. She did give me a look like I was the devil every time I came in the room for her injections, but overall, it wasn’t nearly as stressful as it could be. Still, it wasn’t an easy time for either of us. Role-reversal is difficult to get used to. Parents are used to caring for their children, not the other way around.
It’s National Family Caregiver Month, Thank a Caregiver!
Caregivers are incredibly important in today’s society. Our generation and our parents generation are really pioneers in caregiving. We are living much longer now, so it stands to reason that at some point we will become the caregivers of our parents. Taking care of your aging parents allows them to stay at home, where they are more comfortable. It keeps nursing homes from getting overpopulated and reduces the strain on an already tight nursing personnel budget. On a more personal side, it allows children and grandchildren to have more quality time with their older relatives. The majority of caregivers perform their role out of love, not out of a desire to be thanked. Still, don’t you think they deserve a little “thanks” for all that they do?
ThanksProject.org gives you an easy way to say a simple “thank you” to all of those who care for our older generation (and, in some cases, even our younger generation of parents!). Creating your message can take as little as one minute of your time. Simply click “Send Your Thanks” to get started. All you need is your name and your email address. You can specify the name of the caregiver that you are thanking or send a general “thank you” out to all caregivers. If you want to go the extra mile, you can send a note with a photo or video. One minute of your time to say “thank you” can mean so much to someone who is feeling overwhelmed by their current situation.