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Caring for the Caregivers


This year has been a difficult one for many of us, but it’s been especially challenging for caregivers, whether they are taking care of children who aren’t in school, aging parents who need extra help, patients who can’t see their family members… the list goes on. 

November is National Family Caregivers Month, which makes sense since this is usually the month we normally associate with gratitude. Demands on caregivers are sky high this year as many families don’t have normal “outlets,” including in-person school or even community programs or events that offer opportunities to give some structure to our disrupted lives. 

All of that makes it especially important to recognize and offer support for the caregivers in our lives and our communities. We also need to make sure that these individuals also are taking care of themselves. 

Three ways to support caregivers: 

  1. Be a listener. We might not be able to get together in person, but we can still provide a listening ear during a phone call or even video conference. Allowing caregivers an outlet for their frustrations and concerns can help them take stock of demands and work through some of the problems or frustrations they’re facing. 
  2. Offer help. While restrictions in place to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus may keep us from doing things like helping with chores like cleaning, we can send a gift card for a movie rental or suggest a helpful Ted Talk or an encouraging podcast.
  3. Remember and create. This year is definitely testing our ability to keep time, right? It has become a regular occurrence to wonder, “What day is it?” And that makes it more important than ever to hold on to and celebrate special occasions. Remembering a birthday by sending a text or even a card in the mail can provide an immediate – and likely lasting – lift. 

If you’re a caregiver, here are three ways you can take care of yourself during stressful periods: 

  1. Identify what you can’t change. It’s important to remember, especially now, that we can’t control other people. We can only control the way we respond to people and the world around us. Acknowledging that may help to ease frustrations over what others may be doing or not doing.
  2. Focus on progress. Goal setting can be a helpful way to look forward. But it’s also important to avoid being overwhelmed by the steps it takes to get to the finish line. And that’s why it’s critical to celebrate each step in the process. 
  3. Ask for help and accept it when it arrives. As a caregiver, you’re doing things for other people all the time, which is why it can be hard to see help when it arrives as just that, help. It’s important to remember that asking for help doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. It’s a lifeline thrown out during a storm… take it. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis that cannot wait, don’t wait. The expert team at Willow Creek Behavioral Health is a phone call away, 24/7. Call (888) 464-1498, or toll free at (844) 308-5050, to be connected with a mental health professional who can help to determine the next steps – including setting up an in-person assessment the same day. 

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