Contributed by Fabiola Jean-Charles, Transitions & AmeriCorps Program Manager

Caregivers have one of the hardest roles a person can fill, so Transitions, BBH’s pre-hospice program, recently showed their caregivers how much they are recognized, appreciated, and supported. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, there are 53 million caregivers nationwide; 61% of whom are female and 39% male. Thousands of these unsung heroes are our neighbors in the Big Bend community.

Although caring for a loved one is a welcome opportunity for many caregivers, it is also clear that this role comes with many challenges. According to Own Your Health, there are three distinct challenges that many caregivers face: isolation, stress, and financial burden.

The isolation of the caregiving role comes from a lack of access to the “outside world.” Given the many tasks that caregivers are charged with, there can be little to no time for self-care, when most caregivers would choose to spend time with other friends and family, experience solitude, enjoy their hobbies, and so forth. Volunteers with our AmeriCorps program are able to help create caregiver respite opportunities, providing companionship for the client while the caregiver can spend time apart from caregiving duties, knowing the person is with a trained and screened volunteer.

The stress of caregiving mostly derives from being responsible for the loved one’s health and other concerns such as: having to set up doctor’s appointments, manage medications, and assist with activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, toileting, eating, etc.) One way to address one’s caregiving stresses is to intentionally set aside even brief windows (five to ten minutes; your schedule permitting, of course) for self-care. This time can be used to walk, breathe, pause, read, reflect, or whatever nourishes you in those moments. Transitions Social Workers and Wellness Callers are available to help you process what you are living through.

The financial burden of caregiving is another challenge many caregivers deal with. This not only comes from having to supplement the loved one’s cost of care, especially when insurance does not cover all aspects of care, but also because many caregivers have to forego their own careers or educational opportunities. Should one’s caregiving be affected by the financial burden, we encourage you to reach out to Transitions and other agencies (Department of Elder Affairs, Senior Center, Area Agency on Aging, and the like) for guidance and encouragement.

We honor and appreciate all the caregivers for the clients in our Transitions program and others. The job of a caregiver is one that is ever-changing and often comes with little to no support. Many times with Transitions clients, our focal point becomes caring for the caregiver. As a symbol of this we recently, thanks to the teamwork of many Big Bend Hospice Volunteers and AmeriCorps Volunteers, delivered cards and chocolates to caregivers for our Transitions clients, to hopefully remind them of the value of what they do, and to remember to care for themselves.


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