by Catalina Popescu, HHS ASC VISTA and Claire Irwin, HHS Age Well Live Well Coordinator
During November, which is National Family Caregivers Month, take time to honor and thank the Texans who provide care to their loved ones.
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, a caregiver is defined as “any relative, partner, friend or neighbor who has a significant personal relationship with, and provides a broad range of assistance for, an older person or an adult with a chronic or disabling condition.” According to a 2020 report by AARP, about 89% of caregivers are relatives and about 10% of caregivers are providing care to a friend or neighbor.
Caregiving can be incredibly rewarding and can bring the caregiver and care recipient closer together. It can also come with challenges, as many caregivers juggle multiple roles. For some, caregiving can involve complex tasks, like the distribution of medicine, food preparation, assistance with hygiene activities and transportation.
Whatever the reason for stepping into the role, caregivers are undertaking a labor of love. Encourage the caregivers in your life to consider reaching out for help when needed. Here are some resources caregivers can consider:
• Mental Health Support: Caregiving can be stressful, and caregivers may find it helpful to discuss their concerns and stresses with a mental health professional. Explore resources by visiting the Mental Health TX webpage.
• Connection: Caregivers may feel very connected to their care recipient but may have trouble connecting with other caregivers. Support from people with shared experiences can help. Explore resources from the Caregiver Action Network or reach out to your local area agency on aging for help.
• Training: Both AARP and the Family Caregivers Alliance offer resources to help caregivers learn important skills and acquire new methods of care.
• Respite: Allowing enough rest for caregivers is important.. Respite can give them time to recharge and provide self-care. Take Time Texas has a searchable database of respite services.
• Planning: The Texas Health and Human Services Commission Aging Services Coordination office created Texas Talks in 2018 to help people talk to older adult family members and friends about aging and needs that may arise. Get started by exploring the 2022 Texas Talks topics.
Lasty, caregivers starting their new roles can encounter a whole new set of unfamiliar terms. To help navigate, AARP gathered a list of terms that may be helpful to new caregivers. Explore more caregiving resources on the Texas HHS Support for Caregivers webpage, www.hhs.texas.gov/services/aging/support-caregivers.