Angela Homoelle leads Catholic Charities Caregiver Assistance Network.
November is National Family Caregiver month. Everyone is touched by caregivers in their lives. It is said there are four types of caregivers in this world.
1. Those who are currently caregivers
2. Those who have previously been caregivers
3. Those who will be future caregivers
4. Those who will need a caregiver
Maybe you are helping your parents get to doctor appointments or the grocery. Maybe you are caring for a spouse with a chronic illness. Maybe you are caring for someone with dementia. Maybe you are a young adult caring for a sick parent or grandparent. Maybe you are caring for your ex-spouse who has no one else to care for them. Maybe you are a grandparent caring for grandchildren. Maybe you are caring for a child with special needs. Maybe you are caring for multiple people at the same time. Some people are drawn to caregiving and are natural helpers. Others are caregivers by default, when there is no one else available.
Caregiving takes on all shapes and sizes. Whether you manage care for your loved one 24/7 or take a few minutes each week to fill mom’s medicine dispenser, you are a caregiver. We don’t usually plan on being a caregiver, so we seldom have a plan when we begin caregiving – we have to make it up as we go along. As a result, we tend to neglect our own self-care in the process. Chances are if you are a caregiver, you are worn out, over-extended, and in desperate need of a break, or you are headed in that direction. You would gladly take that break, if it weren’t more trouble than it’s worth to arrange things so you can get away. We need help, but asking for help is hard and there are so many obstacles to overcome, that it’s exhausting just to think about. Without realizing or intending it, we dig our own holes, and can’t figure our way out without sacrificing promises we made to our loved one or feeling like we are betraying them. Sound familiar?
At the Caregiver Assistance Network, here at Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio, we’ve heard your stories and appreciate your struggles. Caregiving is hard and often unappreciated work. We want to support you on your journey and help you out of survival mode. We have 19 caregiver groups throughout greater Cincinnati. They meet during the week and on weekends, during the day and in the evening. We have groups for kinship caregivers and for those caring for older or disabled adults. Whatever your situation, there is a group for you. Groups typically meet monthly for an hour and half and provide caregivers with valuable resource information, opportunities to learn from each other’s experiences and a non-judgmental atmosphere in which to share your story. There is no cost to attend. Check out our group calendar here.
In addition to caregiver groups, we offer a 6 session self-care class called Powerful Tools for Caregivers. Caregivers learn to manage stress, communicate effectively and deal with guilt and frustration. Call (513) 869-4483 to learn more and find out when our next session begins. Classes are free, but class size is limited.
Finally, we do several special events each year to help caregivers on their journey. We have a Caregiver Workshop in Middletown every spring, a Caregiver Retreat at the Jesuit Spiritual Center in the fall and coming soon, in November, we partner with St. Peter in Chains Cathedral and the Order of Malta to sponsor the White Mass. On November 11, 2018 at 11:00 am at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, Bishop Binzer will celebrate the 14th annual White Mass in honor of caregivers in our community. We will recognize 78 caregivers during Mass and honor them with a reception following Mass in the Undercroft.
Caregivers are essential to our lives. As inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, once said, “One person caring about another represents life’s greatest value.” Please join us in prayer this month as we honor caregivers who add so much value to our lives.
Lord Jesus, throughout the month of November, we pray for the caregivers in our community who sometimes feel isolated and forgotten, overwhelmed and anxious. Bless them, encourage them, strengthen them, and give peace to them in the midst of their burdens and pressures. Keep them close to Your heart, and enable us to give care to them when they need it most and expect it the least. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.