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Guest Viewpoints

Supporting Those Who Support Others: National Caregivers Month

November 20, 2020
By: Hannah Blank, MA, MSW, LSW

As 2019 came to a close, many of us attended 1920s themed parties and celebrations, welcoming the New Year.  We cheered and danced way past midnight, as pearls draped our necks, feathers poked from our heads, fedoras were tipped, and suspenders made their debut once more.  With high hopes of a fresh start, new 2020 calendars and organizational tools were purchased. This is going to be my year!” we exclaimed, shared, and reposted.  A few short months into 2020, we were strongly reminded that hindsight is in fact 2020.   

Amidst all the changes to our lifestyles, many barriers have certainly been met.  Our plans for a beautiful and prosperous new beginning, may have been derailed and filled with grief and loss, sickness, unemployment and financial difficulties, poor mental health, and a multitude of other obstacles.  The words “unprecedented,” “essential, and “our new normal” have taken on new and distinguished meanings. Paper products became a hot commodity and virtual platforms have become a true necessity for communication.   

Once Halloween decorations, costumes, and candy is marked down to half the price, winter holiday decorations immediately take their place.  This rapid change could bring an even larger amount of stressors to our lives, not allowing any time to adjust to wearing jackets again each time we step outside.   

Perhaps you’re wondering how you can safely celebrate the holidays with your family without putting yourself or anyone else at risk of falling ill. You may have even become progressively troubled over the costs of gifts because $100 is the new $20 bill.  As the months have rapidly passed us by, it has become increasingly difficult to find time for ourselves which ultimately inhibits our ability to be supportive to those we love and who need us the most. 

November is truly a special time; it is National Family Caregivers Month.  During the start of the “Season of Giving,” it has become our goal to pay recognition and gratitude to our patients’ families and support systems.  Family support systems are crucial to the continued efforts in both sobriety and mental health stability for those we serve.  Being a caregiver, support system, or even a shoulder to lean on can be very challenging, and your dedication has not gone unnoticed.   

You are appreciated

If this year has taught us any great lesson, it’s to learn how to utilize our time while we are home more hours each day.  What better way is there to spend that extra hour (or two) you have during quarantine, than on self-care?  You deserve this time for yourself. Read that book you’ve been putting off for months now. Take the bubble bath you’ve been talking about for weeks.  Dress up in your 2020 NYE attire and have a dance party (pearls, fedoras, and feathers required!).  Head over to your favorite park for an afternoon stroll.  Do what you want to do; this is your time for you

How can we care for someone else if we cannot care for ourselves first?   

Like our physical health, our mental health wellness is just as important. Caring for our own needs first can help build stronger relationships with those who need our support. Our admissions nurse, Max Zandstein, MSN shared that, “The work of a caregiver is difficult and can be emotionally draining, especially if the caregiver isn’t able to cope well with the stressors of their involvement.  When you’re putting someone else’s health and wellness above your own, you tend to give up the ability and awareness to feel good for yourself.” Practicing self-care, that is, being attentive to your own needs and doing the things that bring you joy, peace, and relaxation will help you maintain your overall health and wellness each day. 

To every caregiver, support system, shoulder to cry on — We appreciate you this month, next month, the month after that, the month after that… And… every single day.  Thank you for all that you do.  You have a huge job and we acknowledge that it comes with many obstacles and emotions, but know that your dedication is so valuable. You are doing your best, and your best is working. 

Don’t forget to take time for yourself.  

You are worth it. 

About Summit Oaks Hospital 

Summit Oaks Hospital is licensed by the state of New Jersey, and is fully accredited by The Joint Commission. For more information on the services and treatment programs available, please visit www.summitoakshospital.com

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