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How to Honor Family Caregivers Across the Nation

Even the simplest gesture can make a difference.

Grateful for caregivers
Credit: Getty Images

I can’t let any more of this busy month slip by without mentioning that it is National Family Caregivers Month, which sometimes gets lost in the celebration of Thanksgiving and the observance of Veterans Day. 

First recognized by President Bill Clinton in 1997 by presidential proclamation, the month of November honors the dedication and sacrifices of family members who provide around-the-clock care to loved ones who cannot fully manage for themselves.

There are few of us who aren’t performing some form of caregiving, temporary or permanent, for a human or an animal. We are a nation of caregivers. Caregiving is both a burden and an act of love. Indeed, it is a burden of love. 

As you know I am especially interested in caregiving for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. This, I think, could be the loneliest form of caregiving as the person we love and who loved us slips slowly away, their ability to even recognize us as caregivers a diminishing capacity. The heart breaks slowly caring for a loved one with dementia.

Some ways you can honor a caregiver this month is to help them out by offering assistance or providing respite care or a day at a spa. Or make meals for a week. Run an errand for them. Find something that is easier for you to do than for them. You have no idea how the simplest gesture can have an impact, if only as recognition of their burden of love. Their efforts are so often submerged by the isolation caregiving can occasion. Reach out. Don’t wait to be asked. 

Another way to honor a caregiver is by prayer. Think of all the people you know who are caring for a loved one, and pray for them individually by name. Few people need our prayers more. I also invite you to join Ty’Ann Brown and me this coming Monday, November 22, at 1 pm EST, for our Facebook Live Thanksgiving Day of Prayer event. Many of those prayers will be for caregivers, and I hope some of them will be yours. 

If you are or have been a caregiver who has carried that burden of love for a family member with dementia, please tell me two things: what has been your single biggest challenge as a caregiver and how has your faith helped you? Let me know at egrinnan@guideposts.org.

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