November is National Family Caregivers Month... a month for celebrating the contributions of family caregivers to their family members, friends, and neighbors.
What is a family caregivers? A family caregiver is one of over 43 million people in the United States who provide unpaid care to a family member, friend, or neighbor. Approximately 60% of family caregivers are women. While the average age of a family caregiver is 49, 25% are between the ages of 18 and 34 (AARP & NAC). Believe it or not, over a million children between the ages of 8 and 18 are also family caregivers (Emblem Health & NAC).
You might be a family caregiver and not realize it. Maybe surgery is keeping a friend from driving for a few weeks so you offer to pick up groceries. Maybe you shovel the driveway for your neighbor. Maybe you've started taking your grandmother to church. Maybe you do all of the above tasks for a loved one.
Caring for others is part of the human experience; its part of what we do for others (spouses, parents, siblings, children, other family member, friends, neighbors) because we care about them. Sometimes the role is temporary. Sometimes we share it with others. Sometimes it becomes a full-time job that grows to include medication management and wound care.
Emotionally, caring for a loved one can be one of the most significant interactions in our lives. Health wise, the support provided by family caregivers can be invaluable (CMS & The Joint Commission). Economically, the monetary value of family caregiving to the U.S. is staggering: in 2013, $470,000,000,000 slightly less than the value of Walmart sales (AARP).
This year's Family Caregiver theme is "Caregiving Around the Clock" in honor of family caregivers for whom caregiving is a 24/7 job. If you're one of these caregivers... or if caring for a loved one is starting to take on more significance in your life, check out the following websites for support and tips to help you care for your loved one... and for yourself.
Last but not least, visit CareSmart's "Caring for You" page. Feel free to visit our other pages, too, for help with caring for your loved one.
"It is not how much you do, but how much love you put in the doing."
- Mother Theresa