Family Caregiver’s Month


November is National Family Caregiver’s Month. So, why the picture of cactus? Well, I’m a little prickly about the fact that the contributions of caregivers are officially recognized only one month out of twelve. With almost 66 million people in the United States providing care to an ill, disabled or aging family member, it should be year-round.

Since releasing my book a few short months ago, I’ve been privileged to hear the stories of so many people who are caring for moms and dads, children, siblings, spouses and life partners. And regardless of our differences, the common thread that runs through every experience is the capacity for resilience, that ability to cope with stress and adversity that sometimes seems in short supply.

It’s a word I recently asked my caregiver’s writing group to consider. What did the term mean to them? What strengthened their resiliency? What weakened it? How did they find it in themselves or others?

As always, everyone wrote from a different perspective. One person described how resilience is a living, changing thing, and that helping others to be strong enhances your own ability to cope. Another takes her lead from the weeping willow – a tree that survives the years through its ability to bend and move with the wind. For me, it could be found by looking at my tiny sparrow of a mom, 90 years old, and realizing that her body told a tale of resilience more eloquently than words ever could. Despite surgeries, disease, and heartache, she practiced gratitude every single day.

So, my question to you, dear readers, is, “What helps you deal with the difficult challenges of caregiving? Is it the support of other people? Is it strong faith? Is it a beloved family pet you can pour your heart out to? Or maybe its releasing your stress and anxiety on paper.

Leave a comment here, and you’ll be entered into a drawing on November 30th to win an autographed copy of The Dutiful Daughter’s Guide to Caregiving: A Practical Memoir.*

Take good care. You are all, quite simply, amazing.

*Sorry. U.S. deliveries only.



  1. wendy keppley says:

    Resilience means putting the needs of others over your own with the hope and faith that in doing so, your needs will also be met someday. It means keeping foremost in your thoughts that you wouldn’t be able to handle the situation unless you had developed that ability in life. And in the circle of love and life, it was your aging parent that gave you that ability in the first place.

    It also means turning to your husband for a long hug when you finally get back to your home.

    • Judith Henry says:

      So well said, Wendy. It’s good to take time and realize the intangible gifts our parents have given us.

  2. Rita Green says:

    I love a scripture in the bible that says: “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12/NKJV) I attribute this scripture to my current position in life: God, my mother and myself along life’s journey of twists and turns, ups and downs, yet forever conquerors. With this perspective, I am strengthened and equipped to handle all of life’s good, bad, and the ugly.

  3. Brenda Hanke says:

    Resilience for me means being able to reach out to others for help as I care for my 85yo mother with Alzheimer’s. First, I was able to find help in a day care when my mother lived with my husband and I for 4 1/2 years. My husband was a wonderful support during that time. My siblings also helped by taking her on weekends and occasionally for a week or so while my husband and I took a much needed vacation. I’m the oldest of six kids and three of the sibs have been helping, as well as mom’s one brother, left from a total of 6 brothers.
    Then I was able to find a wonderful Assisted Living a Facility for her where she has become more active and social.
    Most recently, mom has been in the hospital for abdominal surgery, where she is currently recovering. My sibs, uncle and I have been splitting up time so that she always has one of us with her because she gets confused and agitated. Luckily. She still knows all of us.
    I am so grateful to my mom for the love and support and faith she has always given us and that is now coming back to her and to each other. This gives us all the strength and resilience that that we all need to help her during this journey.

  4. Meryl Blackman says:

    Caregiving to me means putting the love you feel for the person you are caring for before yourself and your life-needs. You become more resilient, more powerful, and more strong because you are acting out of this pure love.To continue to be effective through the long haul of caregiving, you must be able to connect with self love, and care for yourself too!

    • Judith Henry says:

      Beautifully said, Meryl. Yes, finding that care balance is so important, yet it always seems to be the challenge.

  5. Rebecca Journey-Smit says:

    Hoping the summer will be a productive time for you and that you will be able to find time for yourself to nurture and revitalize your body and mind. We will miss you of course but realize how important this project is! As always, I love reading your words of wisdom as they comfort and inspire me!

    • Judith Henry says:

      Becci – your words feel like a big hug to me. Thanks so much for understanding. I will miss everyone this summer, but will definitely stay in touch! Much love.

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