By Diane Forrest, RN
A friend of mine's son was recently admitted to the hospital. What initially started as a simple stomach virus nearly claimed the 34 year olds life. He was transferred to a larger hospital and placed on the ventilator for 2 weeks while his family waited helplessly in the ICU waiting room. His wife, mother and father paced the floor endlessly waiting for some word from the doctors for a diagnosis of his condition and signs of improvement. While this experience was difficult for the entire family, the mother, my friend was particularly stressed. While she waited for news about her son, she was also concerned for her mother. She is the main caregiver for her mother, and during this time she was unable to see to her needs. Fortunately her daughter, who also lives in the same town was able fill in and perform the tasks while her mother was away.
The young man is recovering, still not knowing the cause of his illness, all the family returned home and back to their lives. My friend returned to the care of her mother, while her daughter returned to her home to take care of her family.
The role of the caregiver is never truly realized or appreciated until there is a change upsetting the balance of things. This experience has hopefully taught her mother how much her daughter does for her, and that her service is invaluable. Being a caregiver in a family is a very hard job, especially if you have several people in your family that needs your care. My family has a long line of caregivers. My great aunts took care of their mothers, my mother took care of her mother and aunt, my aunt took care of her neighbor, and I spent the last 15 years taking care of my husband. Caring for a family member is physically, mentally and emotionally draining. The demands of taking care of an older or sick family member as well as taking care of your family and yourself is exhausting, but it is not without its rewards.
November is National Family Caregiver's Month. In 2008, President Bush signed a Proclamation stating, "During National Family Caregivers Month we recognize and celebrate the many individuals throughout our country who work each day to ensure a better quality of life for their family members. Through their selfless action, these caregivers provide their loved ones support and comfort as they age, combat illness, or suffer from disability."
If you have someone in your family who is responsible for the care of another, why not take this day to give them a call, send a card, take them to lunch, or take lunch to them or even offer to take over for them for a few hours. I know that any form of recognition you offer will be greatly appreciated.
For more information about caregiving visit these sites: http://www.nfcacares.org/press_room/detail.cfm?num=114