November is National Family Caregiver Month, an important time each year to recognize family caregivers and celebrate their efforts. It is also a time to raise awareness about family caregiving issues, provide education for family caregivers, and increase support.
The Family Caregiver Support Program at Missoula Aging Services matches family caregivers in Missoula and Ravalli Counties with a Family Caregiver Support Specialist. The Support Specialist provides one-on-one guidance to help navigate the responsibilities of caregiving and promote self-care. After the initial assessment, services are catered to each individual caregiver based on needs and preferences. Together, a care plan is created and local resources are identified to help reduce stress and prioritize self-care, including support groups, counseling, locating respite care, and education opportunities. Support is ongoing with follow-up consultations at regular intervals that may include adjustments to the plan as needed. Having expert support to find the right resources can make a big difference for caregivers with limited time and energy.
Family members may hesitate to identify themselves as a caregiver. In these cases, they may be reluctant to reach out for information or support. Research indicates that once people identify as a caregiver, they are more likely to pursue available services for themselves or those they care for. Additionally, a caregiver may have the opportunity to feel a sense of belonging and connection with others in similar caregiving situations. The transition to identifying oneself as a caregiver can happen over time or can be sudden due to an abrupt change in a loved one’s needs. The Family Caregiver Support program can help family caregivers recognize their needs and become more proactive and empowered.
If you are providing care to a loved one or know of someone who may benefit from the Family Caregiver Support Program, please reach out for support. Call MIssoula Aging Services at (406)728-7682.