Exhausted.  Pushing back tears because there’s literally no time for tears.  Doing a happy dance because you’ve made it through another day: this is but a sampling of daily emotions felt by America’s 60 million plus caregivers.

We’re sons and daughters taking care of aging parents, friends caring for stricken friends, and family members caring for relatives who have no one else to turn to.

Helen and Jana Panarites

The mom I adore, who makes caregiving worthwhile.

President Barack Obama proclaimed November National Family Caregivers Month.  Here’s how you can celebrate:

If you are NOT a caregiver:

  • Take your caregiver friend out to dinner or make a meal for him/her (find or hire someone trustworthy to mind the caregiver’s charge while out).
  • If your caregiver friend insists that s/he can’t leave the house, bring the meal to her/him.
  • Offer to spend some time with the person your pal is caring for so the caregiver can go out for several hours.
  • Ask your caregiving pal when s/he last saw a doctor, and whether s/he is depressed.  Don’t accept vague answers.  Check in periodically.

If you ARE a caregiver:

  • Exercise.  Exercise.  Exercise.  There’s nothing like a long walk to clear your mind and recharge.
  • Reach out to siblings, friends or neighbors and ask for help with your caregiving tasks.
  • Talk about what you’re going through.  If the person you share with is indifferent to your plight, consider dropping them from your life and try this free, confidential service: 2-1-1 Get Connected.
  • Remember to eat well and laugh (try watching The HeatBridesmaids or The 40-Year-Old Virgin).

Do you have your own special way of celebrating National Family Caregivers Month?  Share in the comments box.