By Rebecca Barnes, Prince William Living Publisher
According to the American Society on Aging, during any given year more than 65 million people in the U.S. provide care for chronically ill, disabled or aged family members or friends.
Whether driving loved ones to the doctor, helping them in the middle of the night, making appointments or overseeing their financial affairs, chances are you or someone you know performs an average of 20 hours a week of care.
My mother provided seven years of care for my grandmother when I was growing up. Now, after four years of assisting with my own mother’s care until her passing last spring, I have seen and felt the difficulties being a member of the “sandwich” generation can bring. Caregivers can have a myriad of emotions and reactions, including exhaustion, stress, guilt, depression and even anger.
Caregivers need your love and support. A few ways you can help:
- Offer to sit in for them so that they can take time to do weekly errands.
- Provide a meal during the week.
- Give a gift certificate for a massage or a restaurant to give them “me” time.
- Gather friends to assist with yard work for caregivers or those they care for.
- Send flowers to brighten their day.
- Offer to help decorate for the holidays.
- Mail a card or a note of encouragement.
- Add them to your prayer list and ask those in your faith community to lift them up in their thoughts.
Most importantly, let caregivers know you care and are there to lend an ear or a hand when needed.
For more information on local assistance for caregivers, visit http://www.pwcgov.org/government/dept/aaa/ Pages/Caregiver-Assistance.aspx.
Publisher of Prince William Living and also Public Information Officer for the Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire Department (OWL VFD), Rebecca Barnes is a lifelong resident of Prince William. You can reach her at [email protected].