Thursday, November 18, 2021

Chronic Illness Caregivers

Did you know that every November is National Caregivers Month? I wanted to acknowledge it and share some resources because so many of us living with chronic illness either have family caregivers helpings us or are caregivers ourselves. And some of us (like me!) fall into both categories.

There are some general resources, including tips, community, and more, available for all kinds of caregivers through the Caregiver Action Network. They also include graphics and tags for sharing on social media, to help connect with other caregivers.

For those specifically dealing with ME/CFS, either in themselves or those they care for, there are several excellent resources.

Solve ME has Resources for People with M.E. and Caregivers, including lots of great information on symptoms, post-exertional malaise, applying for disability, finances, finding a doctor, and more.

#ME Action has a whole set of resources specifically focused on caregivers, including a Facebook group for support, a newsletter, and periodic virtual meet-ups for caregivers.

American ME and CFS Society also offers a long list of tips, plus additional resources for caregivers of those with ME/CFS.

I also have resources for caregivers. My book, Finding a New Normal: Living Your Best Life with Chronic Illness, includes chapters on When Your Child Is Chronically Ill and Coming of Age with Chronic Illness, plus the entire book is helpful for caregivers in not only understanding what their loved ones are going through but also practical ideas on offering emotional support.

Ten years ago, I started a Facebook group, Parents of Kids & Teens with ME/CFS and Related Illnesses, which is now being managed by several other wonderful parents. It's a warm and compassionate group of parents from all over the world (1600+ now), but it is also an amazing collection of experience and knowledge, with parents helping parents with treatments, finding doctors, and school issues, as well as offering each other emotional support. To join, just follow the link, click the Join button and answer the questions (adult caregivers of adult "children" are welcome, too).


Finally, if like me, you are both a patient and a caregiver (besides my grown son, I am also helping to care for my elderly father-in-law with dementia), check out my video presentation from this year's Parent + Caregiver Summit, Caring for Others When You Need Care Yourself.

And my own personal tip, gleaned from the experience of my husband and I is ... Give yourself a break! Even if you can only manage an hour or two, find someone to lend a hand (family member, friend, or hire someone) so that you can take some much-needed time off. You won't be able to help your loved one if you are exhausted and stressed yourself. I wrote about this on the blog recently in a Weekly Inspiration post: A Much-Needed Respite.

What are YOUR experiences as a caregiver? Are there resources for caregivers that you recommend or have found helpful? Please share your thoughts, tips, and experiences in the comments below.

Happy National Caregivers Month!

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