Vim & Vigor - Spring 2010 - North Mississippi - (Page 36)

y ou have a full-time job, a spouse, kids, two mortgages, a car in the shop and a seat on the board of your favorite charity. Let’s face it, you’re an amazing juggler and always find a way to keep all the balls in the air. But you also constantly live in fear that one more item will get thrown into the mix than you can handle. You assure yourself that if it does, you’ll politely decline, hoping the requestor will understand how busy you are. But what if someone you love falls ill and requires constant care and supervision? How will you heap that responsibility on top of the rest of your to-dos? That may sound like a worst-case scenario, but for millions, it’s reality. “Within the United States, there are more than 50 million caregivers for everyone from special-needs kids to the elderly,” says Deborah Halpern, communications director of the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA). “And these caregivers provide over $375 billion annually in free services and provide more than 80 percent of all long-term care in the U.S.” careA SURVIVAL GUIDE important job of your life by jill schildhouse a how-to handbook for the most living. Generally, family caregivers are not paid for their services and those services last for long stretches—typically two years or more. “While many family caregivers may be living with the loved one they are caring for, family caregiving also includes those caring for loved ones who choose to remain in their own homes, or in assisted living or nursing homes, or even long-distance caregiving that requires constant phone contact and frequent trips to visit their loved ones,” Halpern says. Because anyone can end up in this position, and without warning, Halpern suggests caregivers keep in mind the following four messages from the NFCA: message 1 BELIEVE IN YOURSELF unknown heroes Just who are these helpful souls? Often, they themselves don’t even know. “The biggest problem caregivers face is that they don’t identify themselves as caregivers,” Halpern says. “They simply see themselves as a loving mother, a caring daughter or someone who said ‘for better or for worse,’ and now it’s worse.” In reality, she defines a family caregiver as anyone who is caring for a loved one who is chronically ill, disabled or elderly and requires assistance with the activities of daily THE CHALLENGE Your incapacitated loved one’s doctor mentions an experimental procedure that has a chance of slowing the disease progression, but it’s not without risks. You’re unsure how to proceed, and you’re afraid of making the wrong choice. YOUR STRATEGY As a caregiver, you likely will face tough decisions, but you don’t have to face them alone. Take time to educate yourself about the nature of the disease or disability with which you are dealing. If you don’t understand information a physician is giving you, ask him or her to explain it until you do. “And always ask for a resource to consult later, when you’re bound to have more questions,” Halpern suggests. Have a third-party help you weigh the pros and cons when making choices about how to manage the care of your loved one. This objective view can help alleviate the pressure of an already stressful situation. The NFCA also suggests planning vim & vigor · sp rin g 2 010

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Spring 2010 - North Mississippi

Vim & Vigor - Spring 2010- North Mississippi
Opening Thoughts
Weight-loss Success Stories
Come See Us
Hit the Links
Excuses, Excuses
Easing the Pressure
Prostate Predicament
On Mended Knees
Imaging IQ
Will Power
Caregiving: A Survival Guide
Form Factors
Wake-Up Call
Stroke of Luck
Weight Matters
History Lesson
Catch the Spirit

Vim & Vigor - Spring 2010 - North Mississippi