Today, the third Friday in February, is National Caregivers Day.
It’s been almost four years since my mother died, and my years of walking with her toward her end of days concluded. Now I am stepping back into the fold as a caregiver ally. Family caregiving is lonely work. There are no how-to books. There is little time to take care of ourselves. It’s hard to find company, in spite of there being plenty out there. I am not a professional caregiver, but I am an expert on my experience and I have a mission to provide a place of accompaniment to those who are in the midst of giving care. I have built a website with stories, tips and tools, encouragement, recipes, and an opportunity for others to tell their stories and to interact. It’s coming soon! Watch for it, subscribe, and find your tribe.
There are, of course, many categories of caregiving: parenting, nursing, eldercare; there are volunteers, paid professionals . . . and family caregivers, who are neither paid nor trained. Although I was briefly a volunteer (candy striper in junior high) and even more briefly a paid caregiver (college summer job), I’ve run the gamut with family caregiving. I was a stay-at-home mom, I have cared for grandchildren, and for four and a half years I was my mother’s primary caregiver and then her advocate when she moved to assisted living. During those six years, I got a first hand look at the work of professional caregivers. My hat is off to all who do this (unpaid or grossly underpaid) hard work.
According to an AARP 2020 estimate, there are 53 million unpaid caregivers (three-fourths of them women) caring for a child or an adult in the U.S. The average age of a person giving care to a person over the age of 65, was 63. Who is caring for the caregivers? Perhaps my new website will provide a warm, cozy place to hang out, and to connect with others.
You don’t have to be a current caregiver to find something to enjoy on my site! My fairly irreverent memoir of walking with my mother toward her end of days, Mother Lode: Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver, is coming from She Writes Press in October! Learn more about it on the website, as well as about life as a caregiver survivor.
Watch for an invitation to subscribe in the next few days. I’m excited about this new adventure, just in time to usher in my seventies!
And if you are currently a caregiver, thank you. 💜