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A Global Call to Action for Self-Care During National Family Caregivers Month

Oct 28, 2019 09:17PM ● By Paul Spear

Time Counts: Four Voices Call for the Gift of Time:

A Global Call to Action for Self-Care During National Family Caregivers Month

When a person is sick or unable to care for themselves, their family members often do whatever it takes to provide their loved one with all the support and care they need. Yet, research is showing that selfless unpaid family care adds up to a very high cost for caregivers—not just physically, mentally, and financially, but also in terms of the one resource we can never make more of: time.

To deliver the important gift of time to caregivers worldwide during  National Family Caregivers Month (November), the Embracing CarersTM initiative from EMD Serono continues Time Counts, a global initiative with the goal to inspire people from all around the world to pledge a total of one million minutes of their time to help the caregivers in their lives. Time Counts was launched by caregiver and actor Sean Hayes.

One study estimates that 43.5 million adults in the United States provide unpaid care to an adult or a child each year. While the average caregiver spends about 24 hours each week providing unpaid care for a loved one, many caregivers invest far more of their time than that: 23% of caregivers spend over 40 hours — the equivalent of a full-time job — on their unpaid family caregiving responsibilities each week. Unfortunately, caregivers also rarely feel comfortable asking others for help due to a fear of appearing overwhelmed, which means they tend to suffer in silence.

“There’s only so much time in the day, so if a caregiver feels stretched to the limit, they may  neglect their own personal health in order to put the needs of their loved one first,” says Scott Williams, VP, Head of Global Patient Advocacy and Strategic Partnerships at EMD Serono. For the past 15 years, Williams has also served as a long-distance caregiver for his mother, who suffers from multiple chronic conditions. “Our research from Embracing CarersTM finds that this time crunch frequently leads to caregivers experiencing their own mental and physical health problem.”

Embracing CarersTM partners with caregivers who offer their voices and personal experiences to help fellow caregivers discuss their personal stories, advice for millions who are struggling silently.  They include:

●      Jon Strum, who has cared for his wife Jeanne in Los Angeles for over 20 years after she was diagnosed with secondary progressive MS in 1997. Within five years, her progressive MS left her quadriplegic, and Jon quit his job to care for her full-time. 

●      Adrienne Glusman, one of 10 million Millennials across the U.S. who serve as unpaid family caregivers for a loved one. In 2010, Adrienne’s mother was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), a neurodegenerative disease similar to Parkinson’s, and it became clear that she would need regular care from someone she trusted. “In other words: me,” says Adrienne, who quit her career in NYC and moved back to Miami, FL, so she could be closer to her mother.

●      Pat Egan, who has cared for his mother in Boulder, CO, since she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s while his stepfather battles heart disease and COPD. As an outspoken and proactive advocate for the needs of caregivers, Pat has developed many time hacks he shares with his fellow caregivers to help them stay organized while optimizing the scheduling of medical appointments, medication pickups, in-house visits, physical therapy, and finding the much-needed personal time that serves as a respite from the stress of caregiving.

●      Denise Brown of Park Ridge, IL, who was a caregiving expert long before she became a caregiver herself. In 1996, she founded caregiving.com to help those who care for a family member or friend. But when her parents began to require their own assisted care due to complications from bladder cancer and internal bleeding, Denise found herself reliving the same lessons that she had spent years helping others learn: to truly be helpful to someone else, you must also take care of yourself.

With tens of millions of people serving as unpaid family caregivers in the United States, the challenges of caregiving are an increasingly important part of the national healthcare conversation. To learn more about Time Counts, a global call to action initiated by Embracing CarersTM earlier this year in partnership with actor/caregiver Sean Hayes is inspiring people to give the precious gift of time to the caregivers in their lives, please visit https://www.embracingcarers.com/

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