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November Message from Department of Aging and Community Living

Guest Columnist Message

“Caregiving often calls us to lean into a love we didn’t know was possible.” –Tia Walker

November is National Family Caregivers Month – a month when we’re reminded that many ordinary folks like, you and I, do some extraordinary things. According to national estimates, there are over 65 million people who are caring for family members and the value of the unpaid care provided is estimated to be worth $375 billion!

Having cared for my father at the end of his life, I know both the joy and the pain that this journey brings.

Some caregivers are fortunate to have the love and support of family, friends, and community as they take on the responsibility to care for a loved one. They have other folks who will share the tasks of caregiving, give them a night off, do the shopping for them or cut the grass – so that the caregiver doesn’t have to. They have people who will drop off meals or have the loved one stay with them for a week so the caregiver can take a vacation without worry. And some caregivers are not as fortunate. Every day is a strict balancing act, with little time for self-care. They may be juggling their own jobs or simultaneously caring for children while caring for a parent or grandparent. If you are either of these folks, I want to say to you how grateful we are that you do what you do, that you have enough love in your heart to be a caregiver – you are very special.

Regardless of what your situation may be, there may be times when you feel alone or invisible on this journey. The Department of Aging and Community Living wants you to know that we see you, we care, and we are with you — you are not alone. You can reach out to us for information on the supports that are available in Washington, D.C. Whether it’s joining a virtual support group, getting some help to develop your own caregiver plan, or locating a variety of resources available in your community, our staff are ready to talk with you about your situation and how we can help you in your journey. Call us at 202-724-5626.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the years working with families and caregivers and every single person has told me how grateful they were to be able to give back to someone who needed them, often someone who once took care of them. Many daughters and sons, wives and husbands, and neighbors and friends, faithfully take on this task not knowing how long or how hard the road will be, but sure that it is a journey they will never regret.

If you are a caregiver, or if you are reading this and it brings to mind someone you know who is currently a caregiver, then I want to remind you — you also need to care for yourself! So I offer these tips to all about taking care of ourselves, especially in this interesting time — this new normal for now. But I especially hope that it’s helpful to the caregivers among us:

Be Intentional. Spend time with yourself each morning, even if it’s only one minute, to set your intention for the day. You get to decide how your day is going to unfold today.
Be Grateful. Name one thing for which you are grateful.
Eat. Eating regular healthy meals will keep you healthy.
Go outside. Get some exercise, take a walk, get your body moving.
And finally, and most importantly, breathe! Even in the most difficult moments, taking a deep breath can calm us down and help us to deal with whatever is happening at that moment.

November might be National Family Caregivers Month but know that we appreciate you every day. Take care.

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DC Cameo Club members celebrate 19th Amendment with Art Installation at Union Station

Ms. Senior D.C. Trinette Chase and members of her court stand on the Ida B.Wells photo mosaic. Pictured (l to r) Trayci D. Campbell, Ms. Senior D.C., Vanella Jackson Crawford and Shirley Powell Ricks

Commissioned by the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission, the mosaic celebrates women’s right to vote and the historical milestone led by women of the Suffrage Movement.

The mosaic includes various photos of the suffrage movement arranged in the image of Ida B. Wells, a prominent journalist and activist who made history when she refused to march in the back of the procession of the Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C.

The photos include several images of those that led the fight for equal rights of women across the country including Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Mary McLeod Bethune, Anna Howard Shaw, Mary Church Terrell and Mabel Ping-Hua Lee.

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