Caring for the Caregivers-National Family Caregivers Month

Me and Dad inside Faneuil Hall, Boston. He's all, "What's a selfie?"

Me and Dad inside Faneuil Hall, Boston.

Last month I had the best vacation with my dad and kids. Because of work schedules, just the four of us were able to go on our sort-of-annual fall trip. Last year we went to Williamsburg, and this year we went to Cap Cod in Massachusetts.

The weather was perfect for October, the leaves were at peak color, and we ate local seafood every day.

I had decided to drive up, so when I was about an hour and a half away from the resort I saw a message from my dad pop up on my phone above my GPS. He was at the resort, had taken a bad fall, and couldn’t stop bleeding.

I passed my phone to my daughter, had her coordinate between my husband at home and my dad in Massachusetts to see if Dad needed to get to the hospital. Fun times on the Mass. Turnpike for me.

Luckily, Dad was fine, but it had the potential to be very serious. While he’s always been an active person, age and the wear and tear from being an Army Ranger are catching up with him.

I see the time coming soon where some lifestyle choices will have to be made. The good thing is, Dad and my step-mom are planning a move to a nice “active retirement community.” It’s one of those places where you’re on a golf course, and they have yoga at the clubhouse, and bus trips to wine country, but they also have homes set up safety and accessibility for all the less fun requirements of getting old.

I worry a lot about my dad. He was extremely active, so it seems hard for him to accept his new limitations. If they move, they will be very close to my brother, whose job is in geriatric nursing. I do hope they’ll be close to family, since my brother would be a lot of help, and is willing to do it.

Everybody’s roll is changing, and that can be frustrating, upsetting, and exhausting. November is National Family Caregivers Month. Right now more than 42 million people in the America are caring for an older relative or friend. During the holidays these caregivers need extra support.

I’m writing on behalf of AARP and the Ad Council who have just launched new public service advertisements (PSAs) that illustrate how the changing roles of parents and children can really impact lives.

Since the initial launch in the fall of 2012, the Caregiver Assistance campaign has received over $72.4 million in donated media and AARP.org/caregiving has received more than 15 million visits.

According to AARP’s research, the more than 42 million caregivers in the U.S. provide an estimated $450 billion worth of unpaid care to aging relatives and friends. Many think that caregivers are paid health professionals, providing full-time care to someone in need of daily help, when in reality, most caregivers are also working and managing their own families at the same time. This can be highly stressful work, putting caregivers at risk for depression and anxiety immunosuppression, cardiovascular disease, premature aging, among other physiological consequences, as well as causing financial problems.

It is important for all caregivers to know that AARP has created a community  of experts and other caregivers to help at aarp.org/caregiving.

If you were at my house right now, you would see me ugly cry over this PSA from the Ad Council.

If you are a caregiver or know someone who is, here are some helpful resources : http://www.aarp.org/caregiving.

Thirsty for more? Read the Prepare to Care, a Caregiving Planning Guide for Families.

Most importantly, here are 10 Tips for Caregivers During the Holidays. If you are a caregiver, please take some time for self-care this holiday season. You are going great work, and it’s appreciated.

I’m pleased to partner with Midlife Boulevard to bring you this important public service information about National Family Caregivers Month.

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