November is National Family Caregivers Month

Are you one of the 62,100 individuals in North Dakota providing care to a spouse, relative or friend? 

A caregiver is someone who helps another with things he or she can’t do for themselves due to a serious medical condition or the aging process in general. Caregiving can include things like transportation, housekeeping, grocery shopping, bill paying, handling personal care, managing legal or insurance matters or providing a place to live. 

There are different kinds of caregivers:

• Long-distance caregiver – these individuals look out for a loved one who lives in a different city, state, or country

• Sandwich generation caregiver – men and women sandwich between taking care of their own children and taking care of one or more elderly parents

• Spousal caregiver – these individuals find themselves taking care of a spouse with a serious illness

• Working caregiver – adults in the workforce are faced with the dilemma of holding down a job and making sure a loved one is taken care of properly

Caregiving can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be filled with enormous challenges, such as time commitment, competing demands, financial implications, and physical and mental stress.

Here are some common symptoms of caregiver stress:  depression, withdrawal, insomnia, trouble concentrating, anger, health issues, exhaustion, anxiety, drinking, smoking, and altered eating habits. Many caregivers have no idea what to do, how to do it, or where to get help.  This dilemma makes family caregivers vulnerable themselves. 

Check out these helpful resources:

For services and supports targeted for family caregivers: 

• ND Family Caregiver Support Program is a system of support services for unpaid caregivers of older adults to help them continue to provide care in their homes and community through information, assistance, counseling, support groups and training.

• The North Dakota Aging & Disability Resource – LINK connects older adults and people with disabilities to care options that can help them live as independently as possible and maintain their quality of life.

For reliable information on family caregiving issues:

• The AARP’s Caregiver Resource Center has checklists, worksheets, tips, tools, articles, blogs, Ask the Experts and more. 

For education targeted at family caregivers:

• Powerful Tools for Caregivers (PTC) Program is an evidence-based six-week workshop offered by the NDSU Extension Service, through extensive partnerships with local organizations.

The PTC program is designed to help family caregivers take better care of themselves and to feel more confident in their ability to care for their family members.  For more information on the PTC program or upcoming workshops, contact Janet Wanek, FCS Agent, NDSU Extension Service Dunn County at 701-764-5593.

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