Mental Illness Awareness Week Day 5: Caregiving
It is Mental Illness Awareness Week from October 2, 2022 – October 8, 2022. I am posting a series going along with NAMI ( National Alliance on Mental Illness ), One of my favorite sites for all information on mental illness.
Please remember, as I state in every post about mental health, I am not a Therapist, Doctor, or Psychiatrist. I am a person who lives daily with mental illness, so I feel confident in passing on what works for me and what I have learned myself about mental illness. I ALWAYS suggest that you seek medical attention.
The rundown for this week’s posts is going to follow their scheduled day topics which are
- Monday, October 3: Stigma
- Tuesday, October 4: Medication [National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding]
- Wednesday, October 5: Therapy
- Thursday, October 6: Disclosing [National Depression Screening Day]
- TODAY – Friday, October 7: Caregiving
Today is the last day. I will share information from NAMI and my personal real-life experiences with Mental illness. I have found some excellent information on their site and some videos that touch on these subjects.
I want to Promote the NAMI HelpLine.
The NAMI HelpLine is a free, nationwide peer-support service providing information, resource referrals, and support to people living with a mental health condition, their family members and caregivers, mental health providers, and the public.
Anyone can reach the NAMI HelpLine Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET.
Let’s get started on Friday, October 7: Caregiving.
Who is a Caregiver?
What do you think about when you hear Caregiving? My initial thoughts are of a nurse in a nursing home. Caregiving is actually much broader than that. A caregiver is a person taking care of someone who needs help taking care of themselves.
All Types of Caregivers
That person could be a professional (Doctor and Nurse)
They could be personal (Family or Friends)
They could come from the community (Neighbor or Volunteer)
What Do They Do?
It depends on the level of the person they are caring for, but here are some things that come to mind:
Household: Cooking meals, doing chores, and laundry
Hygiene: assisting in the bathroom, bathing, or getting dressed
Mobility: help in and out of bed, help with walkers or wheelchairs
Management: Makes appointments and calls with insurance
Health: rides to doctors’ appointments, talking to doctors about care
Decision Making: Legal matters, financial decisions, what to do in a crisis, and final wishes
Caregivers in My Life
My role is unique in my household. My son Joe has autism, and I am his caregiver, BUT I am mentally disabled from childhood trauma. My husband is a caregiver to both of us. Now that I think of it, Joe is a caregiver also! We have a small dog that Joe feeds and helps with every day (I know not the same, but he does a great job!)
When my husband is at work or asleep, I am the primary person to help my son. When he was younger, being his caregiver was very challenging. His skills have grown with him as he has matured, and he does not require the same amount of care.
I can manage with some help, but there are days when I am entirely in breakdown mode and need my husband around. He usually takes care of my household duties on that day and basically supports Joe and me.
What Character Traits Do You Think a Caregiver Has?
I want to brag here a bit about my household. We are full of compassion for each other. We stop and listen to what each person needs at that moment and do our best to see that it is done.
My husband is very attentive. He usually can tell when Joe or I am in need before we ask. He is very intuned with me, mainly because we are best friends. When he comes in from work, it only takes him one second to assess the situation and see where everyone is at.
Taking care of Joe when he was small took a lot of patience. He was non-verbal for some time, which made figuring out his needs challenging.
Joe would become very upset at certain situations and meltdown. He had VHS boxes that he liked in a particular order. If that order was disturbed, he was inconsolable. We spent time memorizing the order to prevent him from hurting himself.
Despite my disability, I am supportive of my family. I do my best to help everyone with their appointments and medication. I am constantly lending a supportive ear to Joe. He goes to a day program a few days a week and asks many questions because he is trying to improve his social skills there.
Caregivers Need Support
There are some main areas where the person giving care needs care themselves. As a family member, you may completely love and want to care for your family, but there still are hardships that go along with that.
Isolation – When you take care of your family full time, you do not have much time for friends or socializing. You hardly have time to run errands.
Stress – Let’s think about this: you are not a nurse but responsible for someone you love health. That is scary to me! “What if’s” just flashed right before me. What if you don’t administer the medication the right way? What if you are helping and lifting the person incorrectly?
Financially – If you have no time to go to the grocery store, how much time do you have for work? What about all the medications and supplies your family member needs? Where is this money coming from?
NAC - National Alliance for Caregiving
NAC – National Alliance for Caregiving, is a non-profit organization that supports family caregivers. They offer support and services to assist those who assist others. The ways that they advocate are listed here.
1) For support
- RAISE Family Caregivers Act
- State Plans for Caregivers
- Training & Information
- Care Planning Tools
2) For Finance
- Working Caregivers
- Out of Pocket Expenses
- Retirement Security
- Long-Term Care Financing
3) For Research
- Service Utilization
- Improved Health Outcomes
- Population Health
- Care Team Inclusion
- CARE Act
- Social Determinants of Health
- Person and Family-Centered Care
5) For Health
- Mental/Physical Health
- Peer Support
- Access to Affordable Healthcare
Family Caregiver Alliance
I found an additional resource which is Family Caregiver Alliance. They have been around for over 40 years providing services to family caregivers. They are based in California but have reached out nationally to assist all who need them. Below is their contact information
Family Caregiver Alliance
National Center on Caregiving
(415) 434-3388 | (800) 445-8106
FCA CareNav: https://fca.cacrc.org/login
Services by State: https://www.caregiver.org/connecting-caregivers/services-by-state/
Conclusion of Mental Illness Awareness Week
I am thankful to have such a loving family to support and be supported. I hope you have enjoyed my articles on Mental Illness Awareness Week!
If you like my posts, please like and share them on social media!
I will be changing the email soon and would love to have you join my list! I plan on designing some free printables exclusively for my list.
For this week, Mental Illness Awareness Week, from October 2, 2022 – October 8, 2022, here is what we have posted so far –
Previous article in this series
NAC – National Alliance for Caregiving National Alliance For Caregiving Policy Initiatives
Family Caregiver Alliance Caregiving