Tuesday, April 7, 2015

National Family Caregiver Day 2015 ...

Hi Everyone!

Today is National Family Caregiver Day 2015, a day to celebrate the millions of unpaid family caregivers who give of their time, strength, love and futures in order to provide care for those who are ill, frail or disabled.

These caregivers are not a homogenous group with the same experiences, needs and feelings, rather, people, old and young, with highly complex, complicated and individual stories, people whose lives are changed considerably, often dramatically, by the experience of caregiving.

Family caregiving is one of the most rewarding, satisfying and, at the same time, most stressful and depleting endeavours most of us will ever undertake. Caregivers, the backbone of our healthcare system,  need and deserve all the encouragement, emotional and practical support, and resources we can give them so that they don't have to carry the costs of caregiving on into the rest of their lives.

What are these costs? They can include physical illness or injury; mental illness; posttraumatic stress; chronic sorrow; compassion fatigue; missed educational, job or volunteer opportunities; job loss; loss of retirement funds; loss of experiences and relationship quality with the care recipient or friends and family; depleted parenting; loss of identity and self-actualization; loss of recreational and leisure time; loss of sustaining spiritual or philosophical beliefs and many others.

On the other hand, there are important gifts that can be found within some caregiving experiences - development of new skills and competencies; greater self confidence; an appreciation for the smaller, simpler things of life; psychological and spiritual growth; recognition of the importance of self care and the greater wellness that flows from it;  new friendships and support systems; and greater transparency and intimacy in relationships.

Today, and all month, there will be programs and celebrations for family caregivers offered through support agencies and organizations across the country. Here are just a few:

1.  Canadian Caregiver Coalition:
The CCC are offering a series of podcasts sharing caregiving strategies and tools as well as a tweet chat. They have also created a poster on Care & Work: A Balancing Act.
2.  Canadian Virtual Hospice:
The Cdn Virtual Hospice eNews newsletter for April is entirely devoted to supporting caregivers.
3. Family Caregivers Network Society: 
BC's Family Caregivers Network Society is offering free webinars throughout the spring on topics such as Guilt & Frustration, Care Planning 101, Letting Go, and Respite.

If you have a family caregiver in your life, please take some time, today, to contact him or her with a message of love, support and understanding. It can make all the difference in a caregiver's day.

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