Arkansas Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities

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Thank You, Family Caregivers

Giving Thanks to the Family Caregiver

November, as you may know, is National Family Caregivers Month. It is a month to show our appreciation and support for the caregivers in our lives; there are many. The National Alliance for Caregiving estimate that there are 44 million individuals in the U.S. who are caring for a family member, friend or neighbor. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, let us remember to thank a family caregiver!

Dear Caregivers,

We are most grateful for you, the amazing caregivers across Arkansas who are providing exceptional care and compassion to care recipients. We thank you for your hard work, selflessness, dedication, and ability to love unconditionally. We are inspired by the commitment you, the family and professional caregivers, give to help those who need additional support or who cannot care for themselves. The work you do and the care you provide is appreciated more than you will ever know.

the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities Arkansas


Every caregiver needs a caregiver — someone who will tend to your loved one for a few hours, days or weeks so you can take care of yourself.

Respite care helps you make it through the long haul, and that’s good for both you and your loved one. Respite can come from family and friends but also from volunteer groups; faith-based organizations; local, state and federal agencies; or paid respite workers. It can take place in the home or at an outside facility such as an adult day care center. Some long-term care insurance plans cover part of the cost of respite care.

Design a Family Respite Care Plan

The first step in developing a family plan is thinking through your needs and who’s available to help fill them.

  • What do you need? Three hours off, twice a week? Twenty-four hours away from the house? A regular day (or night) out with your spouse or friends? A combination of the above?
  • What does your loved one need? Meals? Laundry? Light housekeeping? Personal care? Daily walks? Medical help? List every job, large and small.
  • Who can pinch-hit? Cast a wide net. List family near and far, your friends and your loved one’s friends.

Call a Family Meeting

Include out-of-town siblings, adult children and extended family via video chat. Explain that you need regular and as-needed time away from caring for the loved one you share.

A few elements are key to a successful family caregiving meeting.

  • Be specific. Don’t expect your family to automatically know your needs.
    Tell them about what you and the care recipient require. Will they need to make meals? Administer prescriptions? Simply offer comfort and conversation?
  • Be flexible. Offer options — that makes it easier for family to pitch in.
    If family members beg off because work and kids eat up weekdays, ask if they can cover Friday nights or an early morning run to adult day care.
    A sibling who can’t contribute time may be able to contribute money to cover a car service or a once-a-week professional caregiver. Your out-of-town sister and her family can come to stay for a week while you take a vacation.
  • Answer questions. Many people expect caregiving to be overwhelming, or they fear making a mistake. Ask about concerns and address them as best you can.
    For example, if anyone is uneasy about bathing, dressing or helping a loved one go to the bathroom, consider arranging to have a home health worker come during their respite shift.
    If the person receiving the care has mobility issues, demonstrate how to assist. Let your substitutes know you’ll leave written instructions about meals and medicine, and phone numbers for backup care providers and your loved one’s medical team.
  • Consider using a free online scheduler such as Lotsa Helping Hands or CareCalendar that lets you specify what you need and allows others to sign up to provide services and get updates on how your loved one is doing. Email the link and login to your family and friends and to your loved one’s friends and neighbors.

Longtime friends and neighbors often are glad to spend a few hours a month helping someone with whom they share a history. Reach out to your personal support network, make a plan. You deserve a break!

About the Arkansas Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities

The Council is a federally funded state agency that promotes integration, inclusion and independence for Arkansans with developmental disabilities. Council members are self-advocates, relatives and/or caregivers of individuals with DD, state agency directors, and representation from nonprofit and private organizations. The Council works to encourage self-advocacy; to remove barriers to information, services and support; to advocate for policy changes; to develop and support coalitions; and to educate community leaders. For more information about the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and its mission, browse more pages on this website, or call 501-682-2897. Follow the Council on Facebook and Twitter @gcddar. You can also find Arkansas GCDD on YouTube.