November is National Caregivers Month and as such I encourage you to recognize the pivotal role family caregivers play in their loved ones’ lives and in the country’ s long-term care system. In many instances, caregiving by a family member keeps a loved one with special needs in the home as opposed to an institutional setting. It can be an incredibly rewarding experience but it is usually no small feat. Caregiving for so many is a balancing act; assisting a relative who needs daily help while also handling the pressures of a career or tending to the other members of the household. Think for a moment about all of the demands on your time, and then add dressing and feeding a loved one, managing medication schedules and operating specialized medical equipment to that list. There is not enough room in this publication to truly outline what family caregiving sometimes entails.
My wife Adrienne and I are family caregivers for our 11 year-old daughter Clare who has Down syndrome. We have three wonderful children, we work full time and we are able to volunteer. However, caregiving doesn’t have to mirror our family’s scenario; it comes in all shapes and sizes. Caregiving can come from sisters and brothers, aunt and uncles, grandparents and other extended family members who prioritize the needs of relatives over their own. So please take a moment this November to acknowledge family caregivers in New Jersey and all they do on behalf of others.