As a social worker in the field of gerontology, I have worked directly with family caregivers for the last 15 years. This experience has changed my entire world view. I have never been so in awe, so inspired, and so touched by the amazing love and care that I witness.
I have seen spouses who had to step in and start managing bills, taking out trash cans, and doing all the tasks their partner managed for 30 plus years. I have seen adult children guide their parent through doctors’ visits, gently helping them get dressed and ready for the day, and preparing their meals with love.
I have also seen hardship and pain. The spouse who no longer gets a Valentines card from their loved one. The sleepless nights and constant worry that takes both a physical and emotional toll. The caregiving spouse who ends up in the hospital first because they were ignoring their own symptoms to care for their loved one.
There are countless stories out there of both amazing love and compassion, and simultaneous heartache and guilt. Each one is specific and unique to the people involved, yet intrinsically tied to each other in their similarities.
Every time I led a caregiver support group I was lifted up by the comradery in a room of caregivers. The compassion for each other, the support and tips provided are invaluable. Caregivers are often very good at supporting each other, but often do not offer themselves the same grace and compassion.
According to an AARP study, in California alone there are approximately 4.45 million family caregivers. The community is large, yet often family caregivers feel so alone in their daily tasks.
For this reason, Senior Concerns started an annual Caregiver Recognition Day event to honor and celebrate family caregivers. This year the event is virtual and will be held over Zoom on Thursday, March 10th from 1 – 3pm. The event is free, and they even provide goody bags to be picked up for the first 100 to register. This year’s event is focused on reflection and renewal.
There will be a variety of excellent speakers, as well as break out rooms where caregivers who attend have the opportunity to talk with each other and feel part of their caregiver community.
Topics that will be presented include The Value of Connectedness, Having Faith in Yourself: How to Trust Yourself to Do the Right Thing, and Having the Courage to Advocate for Your Loved One and Feel Good About It.
If you are a caregiver of an aging loved one in our community, you are welcome to join this free event by registering at https://www.seniorconcerns.org/caregiver-recognition-day/ or by contacting Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189.
Caregivers are truly the backbone of our community, and yet often they do not call themselves caregivers. If you have stepped into the role of caring for an aging loved one, allow yourself to identify with this huge, compassionate, and necessary community of people who care.
Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.