Millions of family caregivers need to care for themselves

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Experts agree that more than 65 million American caregivers, those who tend to special needs children, older parents, or loved ones with chronic illnesses or disabilities, need to take time to focus on their own well-being, both for themselves and those they care for.  These caregivers are far more likely to feel high emotional stress than those who have been able to maintain relationships with family and friends.  

According to Gregory L. Johnson, director, community outreach and creator of EmblemHealth's Care for the Family Caregiver Program, "Caregivers first and foremost need to identify they are caregivers.  They need to understand that before they can care for anyone else, they need to care for themselves."

To help serve them, Caregivers' Monday was established in 2011 by The Monday Campaigns, a nonprofit organization in association with Johns Hopkins, Syracuse and Columbia Universities.  It recommends that family caregivers set aside time for themselves each week.

Sid Lerner, the campaign's founder, said, "Day in and day out, millions of family caregivers put all of themselves into helping their loved ones, often neglecting their own health and well-being.  Caregivers' Monday encourages them to use that first day of each hectic week as their recharge day, to refocus on their own condition so to better serve their dependent parent, child or spouse."

Sherri Snelling, chief executive officer and founder of the Caregiving Club, offers family caregivers "Me Time Monday," a series of helpful videos and tip sheets.  "Our materials encourage caregivers to balance self-care while caring for a loved one.  We support the national movement to adopt healthy behaviors and prevent chronic illness by starting new activities on a Monday," Snelling said.

Research shows that Monday is the perfect time for a fresh start.  Family caregivers can look to this day to exercise, start a healthy diet, quit smoking or simply rest.

To help caregivers use Monday as their recharge day, Caregivers' Monday offers its Resource Kit at mondaycampaigns.org/caregivers-monday/. It includes 52 healthy tips and a wallet calendar to remind caregivers to take time-off every Monday.