Recently, the issue of family caregiving is gaining more prominence in the news and social media. According to the National Alliance for Caregiver (NAC) and AARP, studies reveal that more than one in five Americans are family caregivers. What is further concerning about this study is that family caregivers’ health is worse off compared to five years ago.
As my mom’s caregiver, I can attest to those facts and figures in my personal life. In recent years, I’ve taken additional blood pressure medicine and put on weight. My 2021 goal is to take a step back and focus on my wellbeing. If I am not healthy, I am unable to take care of my mom or manage my team. This past week, I implemented changes to my daily routine to focus at least 45 minutes a day on myself. Just within a few days, I noticed a difference where I had more energy and felt unstoppable.
Since President Joe Biden took office, caregivers are clamoring for his attention to address caregiving issues. One issue that is gaining prominence is the paid family and medical leave. Did you know the United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have a national paid family leave policy to help caregivers like myself balance care for our loved ones while working? Activists like Lauren Miller and Seth Rogen co-founded the the non-profit, Hilarity for Charity (HFC). Their goal is to care for families who who care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s/dementia, and to encourage individuals to live a brain-healthy lifestyle. It is caregivers like them who understand what it is like when your parent becomes your child.
I am fortunate that I am able to separate my professional and personal life. When I am in work mode, my focus is on my team and the best interest of the constituents. At first, I was hesitant to seek out resources. I thought I was Superwoman and can do everything on my own. The past year has made me realize I am not Superwoman, and I need help. I encourage you not to shy away from resources that are readily available.
Below are some Alzheimer/dementia caregiver resources that I use to help guide me through challenging times.
- Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Hotline (800)272-3900
- Rosalynn Carter – Institute for Caregivers
- Hilarity for Charity (HFC)
As caregivers, we can only hope that this national conversation will bring more awareness to the cyclone that drains us mentally, physically and financially. Today, Friday, February 19, is National Caregivers Day. Don’t forget to celebrate the caregivers in your life, or reach out to a caregiver and let them know you are thinking about them. This small gesture goes a long way.
The former First Lady and President of the Board of Directors for the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) advocates: “There are only four kinds of people in this world:
- Those who have been caregivers,
- Those who currently are caregivers,
- Those who will be caregivers, and
- Those who need need caregivers.”
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Usha Tewari is a first-generation Indian-American born and raised in Orlando. Ms. Tewari has over 14 years of experience working for elected officials at the federal and local levels. She currently works full-time in local government managing 13 individuals and is a caregiver to her mother who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s/Dementia. In 2019, she was Orlando Magazine’s “Woman of the Year” with her advocacy efforts. In her spare time, she devotes herself to advancing Alzheimer’s/Dementia awareness at the grassroots level in her community as well as Tallahassee and Washington D.C. She serves as an Alzheimer’s Ambassador for Congresswoman Demings.