I'm very late announcing National Caregivers' Month, but I only found out about it last Friday at a conference in Philadelphia. We attended our fourth Parkinson's event hosted by the therapists who helped Dave. Every year we learn something new, and it's so nice to see the therapists as well as other PD patients and their caregivers.
Last year on the evaluation sheet we all fill out I noted that some attention to caregivers would be appreciated since we all face difficulties both physical and emotional. This year I was happy to discover caregivers were the focus of the event.
In addition to hearing a wonderful speaker and having a break-out session with her too, I tried yoga. I've been curious about yoga for some time and there are classes about five miles from us; now I'm thinking I'll enroll in one of the less energetic classes. It was excellent for my arthritis and other aches and pains, even the tendinitis in my shoulder.
We all know caregivers for people with chronic diseases or a child, perhaps one who is autistic. I had thought some people were just better suited for this role, but you never know when you might find yourself in that situation. If you don't find a way to relieve the stress and fear, you can wind up quite ill yourself. So, the focus in this program was to take care of the caregiver. After all, if you become ill, you won't be able to take care of the person who needs you.
In the room were people who are professional caregivers, but most of us are caring for a spouse or a parent. Sometimes I think the fact that it's a loved one makes it even more difficult, so I was happy to participate in the forum and learn how to help myself. Maybe the program even gave my husband a better appreciation of the fact that this is hard on me too.
This Thanksgiving would be a good time for you to acknowledge the caregivers in your family or group of friends. Maybe you have a sister who takes care of your parents, or a friend with an autistic child, or a grandfather who cares for your grandmother. They don't have an easy life and it wears on them. Can you think of some way to help? Try to suggest something specific you are able to do; maybe bringing dinner to them one day a week or grocery shopping for them. If you live far away, get in touch with an organization that cares for the elderly and ask how you could hire someone to give the caregiver respite once in a while. There are many ways to get involved; you just have to be a little creative.
For all of us, thank you.