Celebrating those who give selfless care

Courtesy of Getty Images African Americans make up 20.3% of caregivers in the U.S. according to 2015 figures from AARP and the National Alliance for Caregivers. Non-Hispanic whites made up the bulk of the estimated 43.5 million family caregivers, but a lower percentage, 16.9%, serves in the role compared to other ethnicities.

November is National Family Caregivers Month

“Across America, daughters and sons balance the work of caring for aging parents with the demands of their careers and raising their own children,” said former President Barack Obama in his 2012 declaration of National Family Caregivers Month. “All of them give selflessly to bring comfort, social engagement, and stability to those they love.”

As the former president noted, many caregivers often go above and beyond in serving loved ones, often at the expense of their own wellbeing. An estimated 585,000 Minnesotans are caregivers for an older or disabled adult, according to the MN Board on Aging. From grocery shopping or taking Mom to doctor’s appointments to managing medications or yard work, the assistance caregivers provide runs the gamut.

National Family Caregivers Month, celebrated officially every November since 2000, is designated as a time to highlight the vital role that caregivers play in society and help caregivers identify resources to help ward off burnout, depression, and fatigue. This year’s theme, “Be Care Curious,” “encourages family caregivers across the country to ask questions, explore options and share in the care decisions” of their loved ones, according to Caregiver Action Network​ (​aka National Family Caregivers Association​)​. The nonprofit launched the observance in the ’90s and picks a theme each year.

“Caregivers are the backbone of our community, supporting and holding families together,” stated Dorothea Harris, program manager of Senior Services at the Volunteers of America (VOA) African American Culturally Responsive Caregiver Support Program. “[They] allow families to stay in their homes and stay in the where communities they feel loved and supported.”

To honor caregivers, the program is hosting a free “Caregivers & Seniors Breakfast” on Nov. 19. Find more info about that event and a few others below. Check msrnewsonline.com for a more comprehensive list of caregivers’ events and resources.

Nov. 1

Caregiver Wellness Workshop

9:30 am-noon @ V.A. Health Care System, 1 Veterans Dr., Room 4T 111-113, Mpls.

The free workshop, the last of a three-part series offers caregivers for veterans an opportunity to learn and experience a variety of self-care and wellness strategies, including mindfulness practices and self-massage techniques. For more info, call Sharon Johnson at 612-467-3780.

Nov. 3

AARP CAREversations: A Family Caregiving Event

1 pm @ Hilton Garden Inn Minneapolis St. Paul- Shoreview, 1050 Gramsie Road, Shoreview  

This lightly facilitated conversation about family caregiving offers key steps to aid in caregiving; a space to network with other caregivers, as well as caregiving resources. Light refreshments will also be provided. For more info, go here.

Nov. 11

Dementia Caregiver Support Group

3-4 pm @ Shaller Family Sholom East Campus, 740 Kay Ave, St Paul, MN

Through a partnership with Sholom Home East and the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia caregivers are invited to meet with others providing care to a loved one, facilitated by Jewish Family Services of St. Paul. The comfort, support, and validation gained by interacting with others in a similar position can be vital to the mental and physical well-being of a caregiver.

For questions or to RSVP, contact Grace at 651-690-8903 or glundquist@jfssp.org or Cassandra at 651-328-2014 or cnickell@sholom.com.

Nov. 16

Kinship Family Caregiver Conference & Resource Fair

10:30 am – 3 pm @ Center for Changing Lives, 2400 Park Ave., Mpls.

The resource fair offers caregivers free educational workshops, legal resources, community agencies, and lunch. The event is put on by Metro Youth & Family Services and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. For more info, visit bit.ly/3362eDa.

Nov. 19

Caregivers & Seniors Breakfast

9:30-11:30 am @ Center for Families, 3333 4th St. N. in Mpls.

In honor of caregivers, this free breakfast offers a time for fellowship for care providers and seniors. The event is hosted by VOA’s African American Culturally Responsive Caregiver Support Program. For more info, go to www.voamnwi.org/caregiver-support.

If you know of more events, please send them to msrnewsonline@spokesman-recorder.com. Find more resources at www.voamn.org, www.aarp.org/caregiving, caregiveraction.org or www.caregiver.org.

—Information provided, in part, by AARP and MN Board of Aging.