By Dr. Tracy Wakefield, Regional Medical Director, CenterWell Senior Primary Care
Many families care for aging loved ones, and November is National Family Caregivers Month. CenterWell wants to honor and support the millions of valued caregivers in our communities and bring more awareness to their incredible work.
Families are the primary source of support for older adults and people with disabilities in the U.S., and more than 53 million Americans provide unpaid care to family, friends and neighbors. These informal and unpaid caregivers are the backbone of long-term care provided in people’s homes.
National Family Caregivers Month (NFCM), celebrated every November, is a time to recognize and honor family caregivers in our community. It offers an opportunity to raise awareness of caregiving issues, educate communities and increase support for caregivers. CenterWell Senior Primary Care is grateful for all of the loved ones caring for seniors in the community, so we want to celebrate their contributions and provide them with important resources.
Most people assume that caregivers know how to provide care and have a handbook, but the truth is most do not and they end up unexpectedly serving in this role. While caregivers might receive some instruction from hospitals, most say they need more training. It’s important that caregivers work with doctors to learn how to safely perform tasks that may need to be done at home if medical services are unavailable.
For those wanting to continue being a good caregiver, it’s important to take care of oneself. One way to do that is to make sure to take consistent breaks from caregiving responsibilities. This is called respite and it can take the form of different types of services in the home, adult daycare, or even short-term nursing home care so caregivers can have a break or even go on vacation. Research shows that even a few hours of respite a week can improve a caregiver’s well-being.
Caregivers can also consider joining an online support group where they have an opportunity to share experiences with others in similar circumstances and get support and new resources from them. The CDC recommends the following two resources:
- Family Alliance on Caregiving —The Caregiver-online support group is an unmoderated group for families, partners, and other caregivers of adults with disorders such as Alzheimer’s, stroke, brain injury, and other chronic debilitating health conditions. The group offers a safe place to discuss the stresses, challenges, and rewards of providing care for another.
- com Resource Center —Offers key resources to help you better navigate caregiving and access to online support groups, such as the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group.
There are also many local resources available to help caregivers. Some include:
We must do everything we can to support our communities’ caregivers and bring awareness to an important public health issue that affects the quality of life for many neighbors. As our population ages and disability worsens, it is critical to understand the physical and mental health burden on caregivers, the range of tasks caregivers may perform, and the societal and economic impacts of long-term chronic diseases or disabilities. The CDC continues to gather information on these topics to help us plan for new public health approaches to assist individuals as well as their communities and maintain the health of caregivers and care recipients.
CenterWell Senior Primary Care has doctors and Care Teams ready to work with patients and their families. These doctors spend more time with patients to help foster deeper, more personal patient-provider relationships. CenterWell also partners with community organizations to aid all local seniors – not just patients – in identifying options for access to food, housing, transportation, and other resources. They work to ensure that caregivers have the resources they need to serve seniors while caring for themselves.
If you or someone you know is Medicare-eligible and searching for a senior-focused primary care doctor, CenterWell gives every patient the time, attention and care they deserve. Visit www.SeniorFocusedLasVegas.com or call 702-745-0004 to find out more about CenterWell locations in your area.