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November is National Family Caregiver's Month
by Evangelina Vela

If you've been feeling overworked and underappreciated, here's your chance to let people know how you feel and to begin to feel honored. It's time to "Share the Caring"!

The Family Caregiver Web, along with the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA), several other national organizations, major corporations, and community-based groups, is celebrating National Family Caregivers Month in November 2001. It is a great way to honor, thank, and support family caregivers.

"The goal for NFC Month is always to raise public awareness about issues surrounding family caregiving and to empower family caregivers," said Suzanne Mintz, NFCA president. "This year we are hoping to raise awareness of the key role that family caregivers play as members of the healthcare team and provide them with educational materials to help them be more successful in that role."

Often, caregivers feel (and are) left out of the healthcare decisions made by medical staff for our loved ones. We don't get enough time to discuss the consequences of procedures or treatments. We don't understand exactly what the doctor is saying. Doctors rush away or dismiss us even when we haven't yet digested the information they have given us. We aren't even told if and what the legal and financial ramifications of a treatment may be.

We all probably know by now that to be "good healthcare consumers", we should do things like carry a list of our loved one's medications to doctor appointments and make lists of questions we need to ask the doctor so we don't forget anything important. But doctors also need to do things to help us be better at our jobs.

NFCA asked some caregivers what doctors should do to help them. The result is a brochure of advice for both caregivers and doctors. Some suggestions for doctors include being open and forthright, making sure caregivers understand the medications they prescribe and possible side effects, and occasionally asking the caregiver, "How are YOU?"

The point is that we should all "Share the Caring". We share the medical care with the healthcare professionals. And our families, friends, neighbors, and communities should be sharing the caring with us.

For more on what you can do to celebrate or to help others celebrate National Family Caregivers Month, see our next article. For more information on NFCA brochures, see our Resource link to the National Family Caregivers Association.

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