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November is National Family Caregivers Month

National Family Caregivers Month – celebrated each November -- is a time to recognize and honor family caregivers across the country.

The theme for this year’s National Family Caregivers Month is #BeCareCurious! Family caregivers want their loved ones to have the best care possible – at the doctor’s office, at the hospital, and at home. This month, we are encouraging caregivers across New Jersey to ask questions, explore options, and share in the #care decisions that affect the health and well‐being of their loved ones.

#BeCareCurious About

Your Loved One’s Goals
You know your loved one better, and spend more time with them, than anyone else does. Talk to them about what their goals are for treatment and their care in general. It can be hard to talk about goals when facing a disease. But these talks help make sure your loved ones are getting the care they want.

Treatment Options
Is your loved one responding well to treatment? If not, ask your doctor if there are other options. New treatments are available every day. Whether it’s a different dose, a new medication, or a new procedure, speak up and ask your doctor if there are options you and your loved one should consider.

Research
The internet is a great research tool, but it can also be full of conflicting, and even dangerous, advice – so don’t stop there! Be curious about that article you just read. Is it from a reliable source? Talk to friends, family and doctors to ask as many questions as possible to learn about your loved one’s condition.

The Care Plan
If your loved one is in the hospital, be sure to ask what happens next. Will they need home care after being discharged? Are there new medications or procedures you will need to manage at home? Will you be trained on what to do and how to do it? A lot of care happens at home and you need to be prepared to provide that care.

Coverage
Don’t be shy about asking questions about insurance coverage. Is your parents’ Medicare plan the best option or should you change plans during open enrollment? Was a medication switched for a medical reason, or because your insurance no longer covered it? If coverage was denied, what can you do to change their minds?

Family caregiving is stressful, but the more you know, the more confident and capable you will be when providing care. Remember – knowledge is power!


As you know, for your loved one with an intellectual and developmental disability most care occurs in the home by an unpaid family member. In fact, two out of every five adults are family caregivers. However, the first rule of taking care of others is to take care of yourself first. Caregiving can be a rewarding experience, but it is also physically and emotionally demanding. The stress of dealing with caregiving responsibilities leads to a higher risk of health issues among the Nation’s 90 million family caregivers. So as a family caregiver, remember to pay attention to your own physical and mental wellness, and to get proper rest and nutrition. Only by taking care of yourself can you be strong enough to take care of your loved one. You really do need to “take care to give care!”

To build awareness around the important role family caregivers play in the lives of their loved ones with intellectual or developmental disabilities, The Arc of New Jersey Family Institute will talk with members of New Jersey’s Legislature at the State House later this month. Keep a look out for photos after the event.

10 Tips for Family Caregivers

  1. Seek support from other caregivers.  You are not alone!
  2. Take care of your own health so that you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one.
  3. Accept offers of help and suggest specific things people can do to help you.
  4. Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors.
  5. Caregiving is hard work so take respite breaks often.
  6. Watch out for signs of depression and don't delay in getting professional help when you need it.
  7. Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one.
  8. Organize medical information so it's up to date and easy to find.
  9. Make sure legal documents are in order.
  10. Give yourself credit for doing the best you can in one of the toughest jobs there is!

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