One in five adults in the United States is providing care for a spouse, a parent, or an adult child. Many of these people are providing significant levels of care for their loved ones, but don’t identify themselves necessarily as caregivers-but caregivers they are.
And caregivers have a myriad of concerns and issues that they must deal with on a day-to-day basis. In addition to the demands of life that each of us faces, caregivers have the added dynamics of fitting the care for another adult human being into their lives and the lives of their families.
It can be difficult for other people in a caregiver’s life to appreciate the additional stresses, large and small, that a caregiver experiences on a regular basis. Caregivers are often dealing with conflicting emotions within themselves, one of which may be feeling guilty because sometimes the caregiving can be overwhelming.
The National Family Caregivers Association is a national nonprofit organization that has been in existence for fifteen years. It’s mission is to “empower family caregivers to act on behalf of themselves and their loved ones, and to remove barriers to health and well being” and to do so so that caregivers can “lead full and productive lives, free from depression, pain, isolation, and financial distress” (http://www.nfcacares.org/about_nfca/mission_and_vision.cfm).
Membership in the association is free of charge for family caregivers and will gain them access to such programs as the e-communities the NFCA has established, the caregiver pen pal program, and the NFCA’s newsletter, “TAKE CARE!” that provides self-care for the family caregiver.
In the Spring 2008 newsletter, there were articles that ranged from how to protect your loved one from medical errors, escape planning in care of fire for family caregivers, and how the volunteers through NFCA can reach out to family caregivers nationwide. Each newsletter also contains a section of resources and information about new products and services.
At the NFCA site there are caregiver resources to be found and caregiver connections. There is also a section for advocacy for caregivers and information on a volunteer organization that would welcome new volunteers. There are re-affirming and positive messages to help family caregivers get through their day.
But perhaps the best thing of all about the National Family Caregivers Association is that it brings caregivers together; it provides a place where the caregiver can go and know they are not alone in their situation, with their issues, concerns, and feelings.
If you are a family caregiver, or know someone who is, take a few moments to check out the NFCA web site or check it out for your friend. Family caregivers can use all the help they can get.