Thursday, November 05, 2009

National Family Caregivers Month

November is National Family Caregivers Month, so I'd like to dedicate today's post to my husband, Ken, and all the other spouses/parents/partners out there who tirelessly help to take care of those of us who are chronically ill (and/or who care for aging parents - Ken's out in Oklahoma right now helping his parents). Most caregivers work hard every day with little recognition of their role and effort. People who don't live with these challenges (work colleagues, friends, even family) have no idea what caregivers' lives are like and how much extra effort they put forth every day.

Caring for someone chronically ill (young or old) requires hard work, patience, and often putting someone else's needs before your own. These caregivers are the heroes in our lives, but their challenges and needs are often overlooked. Some resources for caregivers:

Ken and I have read two excellent memoirs written by caregivers. Mainstay: For the Well Spouse of the Chronically Ill by Maggie Strong is written by a woman whose husband has MS. Maggie alternates chapters telling their own personal story with chapters filled with facts, expert advice, and guidance for well spouses. Her book resulted in the creation of the Well Spouse Association, listed above.

Beyond Chaos: One Man's Journey Alongside His Chronically Ill Wife by Gregg Piburn is written from the perspective of a well husband caring for an ill wife. Gregg's wife, Sherrie, has CFS, fibromyalgia, and has undergone multiple surgeries for various sources of chronic pain. Gregg is a management consultant, so he uses a model of group dynamics to apply to families of the chronically ill, using his own experience as an example, with advice on how to move toward healthier relationships in a caregiving situation.

(Both of these books are now out of print, though used copies are still available - see below. Other books are available at the Well Spouse Website).

I also recently read a memoir, In My Heart by Ursula Hanks, written by a woman caring for her aging parents that I'd recommend to people in a similar situation.

So, take some time today to thank the person or people who help care for you and to let them know how much you appreciate all the things they do. And if you're a caregiver reading this, take some time today to do something just for yourself - you deserve it!


Renee said...

Thanks for this post and reminder of national family caregivers month. I have read Beyond Chaos...a good book!
Hope all is going well for you with Ken gone.

wellspouse said...

Thanks for the post, Sue. Although Mainstay the book is out of print, the alternate chapters are available for supporting members to access on our website,

Sue Jackson said...

Thanks for the extra info from well spouse!


alyson said...

Thanks for posting this. I didn't know it was National Family Caregivers Month. Wishing you good health...