According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, in 2015, approximately 43.5 million caregivers provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the last twelve months.
That’s a remarkable number. Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that the average family caregiver is a working mother of school-age children. Six out of 10 family caregivers work full- or part-time in addition to juggling their caregiving responsibilities at home. Most say they have to cut back on working hours, take a leave of absence, or quit their job entirely. As well, caregivers often ignore their own needs while trying to fulfill those of their loved ones, leading to exhaustion.
This November is National Family Caregivers Month — a time to recognize and honor family caregivers across the country, both in terms of the innumerable challenges that they face, as well as the care they provide loved ones each and every day. In recognition of their 24/7 devotion, the theme of National Family Caregivers Month is “Caregiving Around the Clock.”
Specifically, this special observance has four primary goals, to:
- raise awareness of family caregiver issues,
- celebrate the efforts of family caregivers,
- educate family caregivers about self-identification, and
- increase support for family caregivers.
“Caregiving can be a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week job,” states the Caregiver Action Network, which spearheads National Family Caregivers Month. “Providing care around the clock can crowd out other important areas of life. During National Family Caregivers Month, we recognize the challenges family caregivers face when their loved ones need ‘Caregiving Around the Clock.’”
The Caregiver Action Network (the National Family Caregivers Association) began promoting national recognition of family caregivers in 1994. CAN is the nation’s leading family caregiver organization working to improve the quality of life for the millions of Americans who care for loved ones with chronic conditions, disabilities, disease, or the frailties of old age. CAN serves a broad spectrum of family caregivers, from the parents of children with special needs and the families of wounded soldiers to a young couple dealing with a diagnosis of MS and adult children caring for parents with Alzheimer’s disease. The nonprofit organization provides education, peer support and resources to family caregivers across the country free of charge.
Are you a family caregiver in need of support, encouragement, and resources? To find help, please visit the Caregiver Action Network website at caregiveraction.org.