IDAHO — November is National Caregiver Awareness Month, honoring those who take on the role of caregiver for a loved one like a spouse, grandchild, sibling, or other loved one in their life.
As we've reported, one in four Idahoans identifies as a caregiver. It's a role that can take on many different forms.
"Typically what we see in our organization is someone taking care of someone in their later years," explains Raul Enriquez, Executive Director for the Southwest Idaho Area Agency on Aging.
The month is also a good chance to show your appreciation for a caregiver you might know and offer them a helping hand.
"Probably the biggest program that we have is our Respite Care. We provide someone to give the caregiver a break," says Enriquez. "We also provide information and referrals so we have a team of staff that are really familiar with community resources and they can connect caregivers."
The agency helps caregivers in another way as well by offering support groups.
"We try to provide support to empower caregivers to continue to take care of the people they're taking care of. One of our missions is for seniors to live independently as long as possible, and we find that if we provide support early on, it empowers them to continue on in that role," Enriquez says.
Taking care of another person can sometimes be an overwhelming task, something Enriquez says makes caregiver support groups necessary.
"I think probably the most important thing is just to ask for help. I think because caregivers have a natural, nurturing disposition, I think it's hard for them to ask for help."
Enriquez says that help can come from other family members, friends, and even organizations like the Agency on Aging. He also suggests taking time for yourself.
"I think it's ok to take a break. You want to stay strong for that person you're taking care of."
The holidays are already a busy time and even more so for caregivers, but Enriquez says if you know a caregiver in your life, it's a good time to show your support.
"Any little bit of help counts so if you see something that needs help with running errands or maybe they need a break and you can step in for a little bit, there are multiple ways you can help a person that's taking care of somebody."
The agency also offers volunteer opportunities to connect with caregivers in the community.
You can find out more by calling the Southwest Idaho Area Agency on Aging at (208) 898-7060 or visiting the Agency's website here.