The mission of JFS calls us to support the well-being, health, and stability of people in our community. November is National Family Caregiver Month, bringing recognition to family caregivers who spend countless hours and enormous energy taking care of their loved ones, usually at the expense of their own health and well-being.
“It just snuck up on me – how much it was draining me, and one day I almost fainted,” said Dave who took care of his father as he battled cancer at the same time his mother was living with dementia. While his father was alive, Dave spent almost all his time taking care of him and his mother, with few breaks and virtually no time to rest and recharge. An artist and entertainer, Dave put his business on hold for two years to care for his parents.
Then Dave found JFS and Brenda Wolsey, the coordinator of our Family Caregiver Support Program, who truly understood his experience: “Helping a loved one age-in-place is an honor but can also be a huge sacrifice. By offering caregivers respite, counseling, support groups, and tools they need to do this important work, we honor them.”
Brenda connected Dave with the resources and the practical and emotional support he needed to take care of himself, as well as his parents. He recounts, “I love my parents, so how could I want to take a break from them? They raised me as a kid. But you have to go through that and so therapy came in handy. I learned I could say to myself, oh yeah, Dave, you’re a human being. You need a break.”
One of the most critical supports that JFS offered Dave was in-home care, which gave him the respite and breaks he needed to recharge, go on hikes, spend time on his art, and work on rebuilding his business. As Brenda notes, “Supporting caregivers is really like supporting two people because if the caregiver is not attended to, they cannot provide the love and care their family member needs.”
The Family Caregiver Support Program at JFS not only offers free counseling and caregiver respite but also provides safety equipment to make things easier and safer, offers the “Powerful Tools for Caregivers” course, makes referrals to other services, and empowers caregivers with the tools and information they need to navigate the system. Because, as Dave says, “We need this kind of help. There’s a lot of us out there.”
Join us in honoring the family caregivers in our community—this month and all year.