November is National Caregiver Month

Senior caregivers, whether they be Certified Nursing Aides, Home Health Aides, professional and family caregivers, or the community at large, are vital to the care and keep of our aging American population.

November is National Caregiver Month, and is the perfect opportunity to thank those who have made it a priority to provide home and health related services to the elderly, including physical and emotional support and assistance with activities of daily living.

Family (or informal) caregivers provided services valued at $450 billion per year in 2012, according the the AARP Public Institute. In the United States, 65.7 million caregivers make up 29% of the adult population providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged, and 50% have full-time employment outside the home.

Family caregivers cannot always fulfill all the needs of their senior loved ones. Future numbers are staggering — the aging population 65+ will more than double between the years 2000 and 2030, increasing to 71.5 million from 35.1 million (in 2000). That explains the incredible surge of senior care industry and the need for qualified professional caregivers.

The number of Senior Home Care Agencies has grown by 40% since 2008, according to a recent Caregiverlist employment index infographic. Caregiver jobs are filled at a rate of three to six hires per week, making professional senior care one of the hottest employment sectors in the United States.

The Administration on Aging (AoA), an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, works to ensure that older Americans can stay independent in their communities. Here are some of their suggested action ideas to show your appreciation for the caregiver in your life, in November and throughout the year:

Action Ideas to Celebrate Caregivers in November

  • Recognize caregivers in your community, in your organization and in your family. Host a get-together to honor caregivers in your family and/or community.
  • Locate a community care center or community space and organize a Caregivers Count awareness event.
  • Attend local town hall meetings and ask your representative what s/he is going to do to promote legislation that will help businesses develop more family-friendly caregiver policies.
  • Send an e-card to a caregiver. AoA offers free e-cards for caregivers.

  • Post on Facebook that November is National Caregivers Month and encourage your network to acknowledge caregivers in their families and communities.
  • Tweet about the importance of caregivers and resources available to caregivers.

We depend on professional and family caregivers. Give a shout-out to the caregivers in your life in the comments below.

Ronald Reagan: We are All the Same When it Comes to Aging

About ten years ago, I was in Los Angeles attending a trade show for business.  At the end of the trip, I had made plans to meet a former intern for brunch before flying out of town.  We decided she would pick me up at my hotel, we would grab brunch and then she would drive me to the airport so we would have more time to catch-up (she was pursuing an acting career and had some good stories to share).

We decided to go to a hotel restaurant on the beach in Santa Monica since it was on the way to the airport.  We had not made reservations anywhere because we knew we would be so busy talking that any place would do.  The Concierge informed us that their restaurant was booked, but, if we didn't mind, they would seat us in their breezeway section, right off the hotel lobby as their outside patio was closed.  We said that would be fine.

We sat down and proceeded to start talking away.  A little later a few people sat down at the other table near us but we didn't really pay attention to them as we were deep in conversation.

The waitress brought our omelets and then she delivered a bowl of fruit to the table next to us and said, very loud and slowly, "Here you go, here is your fruit".  My friend turned to me and said, "She is talking to them like they are in an old folk's home".  I looked up and then I realized that the person sitting at the other table was former President Ronald Reagan and his nurse and 2 Secret Service officers. 

He had a baseball cap on and took it off and read the name of the team logo on it as if he were seeing it for the first time.  He then looked up at me and waved and then said something to his nurse and pointed at me.  I winked at her to let her know that I knew the situation and that everything was cool.  She then said to me, "he is flirting with you".  We then all laughed and so did he.  He seemed to think that I was someone he knew. 

We continued with our breakfast and they continued with theirs.  One of the Secret Service officers came over to our table to say hello and told us that they had just gone for a walk on the beach and sometimes stopped in for breakfast afterwards (I think he probably really was flirting with us).  President Reagan finished his breakfast at about the same time we finished ours.  We decided we would hit the bathroom and then leave.  The Secret Service officers and the nurse told President Reagan it was time to go but he did not want to get up.  After we finished in the bathroom, he was still sitting at the table, refusing to leave.  The Secret Service officer said goodbye to us and said that this happens sometimes with the President - I told him I understood because we experienced the same thing with my own grandfather when he had Alzheimer's Disease.

It was amazing to me that we were next to a man who had been president of the United States for two terms but no one in this busy restaurant and hotel even knew he was there - he was sitting in the "leftover" section with us.  For all his success, he was just another guy trying to get through another day while dealing with the effects of Alzheimer's Disease.

"Meet them where they are" is the advice given to caregivers.  No matter who you are or what you've done in this lifetime, we are all equals when it comes to aging.

And that's my story about breakfast with the President.

 

 

 

 

 

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