Being a caregiver is a full time job, and for some, it’s a responsibility in addition to a part or full time job outside the home. This is no easy task. Many people work long hours, have demanding jobs, skip lunch, and stay late. Go home. Repeat.
Family caregivers are this world’s unsung heroes. They’re tired, stressed, and worst of all, unpaid. There are over 15 million Alzheimer and dementia caregivers in the U.S, clocking in approximately 17.7 billion hours valued at over $200 billion. While some caregivers have receivers that do express gratitude, others have to hear constant complaining such as, “this meal is too hot” or “this chair is too hard.” There seems to be a never-ending list of discomforts.
With Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, Family Caregivers Awareness Month, and Thanksgiving all taking place around the same time, November has become the month of gratitude. These three holidays gives us a moment to reflect on how much caregivers sacrifice. As soon as their loved one is diagnosed, their life gets turned upside down. Suddenly, everyday routines may not be so feasible anymore. They must adapt to meet these new unique demands.
Caregivers’ devotion to their loved one can deeply hinder their working and social life, making it hard to find that balance. Without any help, the constant work can lead to caregiver burnout, a cluster of symptoms related to anxiety and depression. But, regardless, they keep fighting on to maintain their loved one’s well being.
This holiday season, take the time to appreciate not only your loved one but also yourself. Be realistic about your Thanksgiving plans and adapt any family traditions if necessary. If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask family or friends. The holidays are the most hectic time of year, and for a caregiver, that stress can double. This day is as much about you than anyone else, and you deserve to make the event as comfortable as possible.