For family caregivers month, recognize the toll as well as the help
As we build awareness, let's also build support for those we depend on
“God gave burdens; he also gave shoulders.” — one version of a Yiddish proverb
When loved ones become unable to care for themselves, the entire family can go through a heart-wrenching experience. Primary caregivers will witness those health struggles firsthand and thus bear an emotional burden that outsiders may not comprehend. Their work is profoundly fulfilling, but it can often be isolating, with few understanding its complexities. It’s an overwhelming role.
In honor of National Family Caregivers Month in November, I want to remind all family caregivers that you’re not alone. In my case, as an adult managing pulmonary hypertension (PH), I’m forever grateful for my husband and caregiver, Manny. His work, like that of other caregivers, is noble and selfless, but it can come with physical and mental health problems.
Thankfully, caregiving doesn’t have to be done alone. Resources such as support groups, respite care, and counseling services can help.
Caregiving groups can provide much-needed emotional support, with valuable advice and coping strategies from others who understand the situation. The gatherings can also help to combat feelings of isolation. Respite care, meanwhile, can offer a necessary break.
Counseling services can also benefit family caregivers, who face guilt, anger, grief, and a range of other emotions. A professional counselor, like support groups, can help the caregiver process feelings and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Counselors can also provide a safe space to express concerns and fears without judgment.
A nationwide recognition
President Joe Biden’s proclamation on this year’s observance states, “During National Family Caregivers Month, we honor the Americans who lift up our communities and our Nation by providing dignified, professional, and invaluable care to the people we cherish the most.” Beyond direct help for caregivers, the month is a time to inform communities and raise awareness about the care that they provide.
The national observance is led by the Caregiver Action Network, a nonprofit that provides free education, peer support, and other resources to family caregivers.
While I’m grateful for what caregivers do, I’m especially concerned about the struggles they have. Many of our family caregivers, for instance, are not only providing care for loved ones; they’re also holding down jobs. Manny does that while also managing his own health conditions.
Besides the emotional, physical, and financial toll they face, family caregivers also confront burnout. We must try to offer more gratitude, breaks, and resources for those who are doing their best to take care of our needs.
I encourage my husband to take time away to do things he enjoys, such as ride a bike or box at the gym to blow off steam. Too often, he doesn’t like to leave me alone. But it’s worth my effort.
I’m forever grateful for my caregivers and all caregivers reading this. All of us with PH thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We can’t do it without you and your unconditional love and support.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.