written by Betty Smith

I know first-hand the heartache and stress that is involved in being a family caregiver. I have a mother, age 95 this summer, who lives in a nursing home. I have a husband who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2003 and went into a convalescent home in August of 2009. What is there to celebrate?

While May has been Older Americans Month since 1963, (The name was changed by President Carter in 1980, from Senior Citizens Month.) I’m not sure what good that does for Boomer Family Caregivers. It just reminds us that we are all getting older. And so are our loved ones. No one likes that.

With nearly 40 million people age 65 and over, (reportedly 38.9 million on July 1, 2008, according to the U.S. Census), it’s a good bet that there will be a lot of family caregivers in the ranks, either presently or down the road.

Based on research put together by the leaders of the November 2009 Caregivers’ Summit, http://caregiverstelesummit.com/blog/betty, current estimates indicate that 50 million of us shoulder the burden of family caregiving. Often alone. Usually without adequate support.

As a family caregiver, I’ve learned the importance of keeping my own interests perking along as a way to combat the stress of family caregiving. With the technologies that allow us to connect to groups of people via our computers online and by telephone, there are resources available, including communities of friends and support like Boomer-Living.com.

I’m not especially technically inclined, so for the last decade, I’ve had my own kind of “caregiver” who has been instrumental in helping me keep my own interests alive and active. Mike, my tech guru, came to my house to help me with my computer. Mike’s work with me was the way I like to learn technical things–in person, one-on-one, hands-on. He was older, retired, and enjoyed helping the older people in our community with their computers so they could be productive and connected to the world.

Mike was taken ill suddenly a few months ago. I just learned that my friend and tech guru, Mike, died.

So Mike is my lesson for Older Americans Month. Not one of us is getting any younger, but that’s no reason to put bags over our heads and hope time starts running backwards. It won’t.

I want to honor and celebrate Mike in this forum. His kindness and generosity, his knowledge and tech skills, his caring and abilities have opened the door for me to participate here at Boomer-Living.com and with other classes, coaches, and resources online. I wouldn’t be where I am without his help.

As the month unfolds day by day, I hope you will take the time from caregiving and all its stresses to simply appreciate your loved ones of all ages who will not be around forever. A simple mindful act of appreciating your loved ones and other important people in your life — just as they are — opens powerful healing energies. Appreciate everyone in your life — your loved ones, friends, family, neighbors and even your tech guru — not only during Older Americans Month, but every day of every month.

You may respond to Betty in the “Leave a Comment” section below or email her at bsmith@boomer-living.com.

Author's Bio: 

Boomer-Living.com is a unique and innovative internet resource whose goal is to be the most trusted and reliable internet destination for people of the Baby Boomer Generation.

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