November: Thanksgiving. Veterans Day. National Family Caregiver Month. Open enrollment for Medicare Part D (prescriptions). And undoubtedly someone’s birthday.

Oh, then there’s the whole election thing.

A busy month, and overall, a thankful month — even for the voting frenzy. After all, we do have that privilege.

Which brings us to being thankful on Veterans Day for those who help preserve said privilege. And of course the holiday which wraps being thankful around all of it — Thanksgiving Day.

Among all of these, the family caregiver is sometimes less noticeable, and yet it’s often a day to day — and night to night — sacrifice in each of our communities. And I use the term “sacrifice” tentatively. The majority of the families I’ve worked with over the years consider family caregiving just part of being family.

My mother-in-law lived with us several years prior to passing so we (my wife and I) are not ignorant of the experience ourselves. It becomes a wheel of joy, times of worry, stress, disappointment, guilt, then back to appreciation and joy.

Sleep — real, deep sleep — becomes less frequent. After all, something might be needed during the night. Visiting nurses, Doctor appointments, social services, state paperwork — it all becomes more about their life than ours; and knowing that it’s only “for a season” can start the whole wheel turning again.

Somehow, a month of recognition seems to be inadequate. On the other hand, recognition and appreciation in any form is a good thing. So another thank-you to all the family caregivers out there.

Should you find yourself in a similar situation, there are two main things I’d like to communicate:

1. Others have experienced — and are experiencing — the same dynamics and are making it work.

2. This is a road you don’t have to travel alone.

Our Family Caregiver Support Program staff work in this world on a daily basis. They have walked alongside many families, and often have helped find the next steps in the journey, be it connecting to services, making referrals, or general information.

For more information about our programs and services see our website at www.o3a.org or contact Bob Powell at bob.powell@dshs.wa.gov or at either of the numbers at the end of the column.

We can help.

Information & Assistance

Long Beach: 360-642-3634

or 888-571-6558

Raymond: 360-942-2177

or 888-571-6557

www.o3a.org

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