Nov. 1 marked the start of “National Family Caregivers Month,” an annual observance designed to thank and support the more than 65 million people who provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or elderly family member or friend. In recognition of the crucial role that these caregivers play, Health Net, Inc. (NYSE:HNT) is sharing suggestions to commemorate “National Family Caregivers Month” as well as tips for those serving as caregivers.
“Caregivers are a central component of the health care continuum,” says Jonathan Scheff, MD, chief medical officer for Health Net, Inc. “In fact, Pew research reveals that one out of every eight Americans, ages 40 to 60, is one of the 'Sandwich Generation' burning the caring candle at both ends as they take care of both their elderly parents and their children.”
Ways to commemorate National Family Caregivers Month
The National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA), which sponsors “National Family Caregivers Month,” offers the following suggestions for commemorating this November observance:
- Offer a few hours of respite to a caregiver so that he or she can enjoy a well-deserved break;
- Send a card of appreciation or flowers to brighten up a caregiver’s day;
- Participate in the NFCA’s Nov. 12, free teleclass – “Safe & Sound: How to Prevent Medication Mishaps.” For more information, visit www.thefamilycaregiver.org; or
- Help a caregiver decorate his or her home for the holidays or lend a hand addressing holiday cards.
Tips for caregivers
Providing care for a family member or friend can be extremely taxing, particularly if you are simultaneously raising children. For those in this challenging situation, the U.S. Administration on Aging provides the following tips:
- Ask for help—Siblings and other family members should be asked to pitch in whenever possible, such as by providing transportation or occasionally taking on a weekly task such as shopping.
- Tap existing resources—There are many resources that can help ease the burden of being a caregiver, including transportation services and even legal assistance. To find out what’s available, visit www.eldercare.gov and www.aoa.gov.
- Encourage independence—To the extent possible, it is mutually beneficial to encourage care recipients to complete some tasks by themselves. A dose of independence will boost care recipients’ self-worth while simultaneously reducing the burden on caregivers.
- Explore homecare—Churches, temples, senior employment services, senior centers and other agencies often coordinate homecare options. It is certainly worth checking to see if any such options are available.
- Take time for yourself—Studies have shown that caregivers who take time off to meet their own needs are happier, healthier and more content with their role as a caregiver. It is thus important to schedule quality time apart from caregiving.
Dr. Ian Shaeffer, vice president, behavioral health program design and research for Managed Health Network, Inc., the behavioral health subsidiary of Health Net, Inc., elaborates on this latter recommendation. “Caregivers need to pay attention to their own well-being. If they don’t, they can become overly stressed, which in turn can lead to depression and a host of physical problems. If that happens, both the caregiver and the care recipient will suffer.”
About Health Net
Health Net, Inc. is a publicly traded managed care organization that delivers managed health care services through health plans and government-sponsored managed care plans. Its mission is to help people be healthy, secure and comfortable. Health Net provides and administers health benefits to approximately 6.0 million individuals across the country through group, individual, Medicare (including the Medicare prescription drug benefit commonly referred to as “Part D”), Medicaid, Department of Defense, including TRICARE, and Veterans Affairs programs. Health Net’s behavioral health services subsidiary, Managed Health Network, Inc., provides behavioral health, substance abuse and employee assistance programs to approximately 5.0 million individuals, including Health Net’s own health plan members. Health Net’s subsidiaries also offer managed health care products related to prescription drugs, and offer managed health care product coordination for multi-region employers and administrative services for medical groups and self-funded benefits programs.
For more information on Health Net, Inc., please visit Health Net’s website at www.healthnet.com.
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