I was pleased to see a message on TV that encouraged caregivers to take care of themselves as well as others. Hmmm. Good advice.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a caregiver as: “A person who provides direct care (as for children, elderly people, or the chronically ill).”

Caregiving can be enjoyable but it can also be stressful and physically and mentally exhausting, whether caring for family members, friends or strangers.

Decades ago, another recently graduated high-school friend and I worked at a mental facility for the summer as psychiatric aides. It was an eye-opener.  

We were caregivers for the mentally ill, people who depended/relied on us to address and/or help them address their physical/social/psychological needs.  Fortunately for my friend and me, the regular full-time staff took us under their wing and made our caregiving tasks easier. My friend and I wondered how the staff coped/survived as caregivers year after year.

Since that time, I have been temporary caregiver for relatives and/or friends.  It has not always been easy. My hat is off to caregivers who assume the role of caregiver year after year. 

I recently learned that the third Friday in February is National Caregiver Day and the month of November is National Family Caregivers Month (thanks to an Evanston librarian). 

Let’s not wait for November or February to show/tell caregivers how much they are appreciated.  Thank you, caregivers, for all you do for others.

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...