November is National Family Caregiver Month! More than 65 million people—that’s more than one quarter of the U.S. population—are the caregivers for a family member who is disabled or chronically ill or aged. Chances are that if you are not a family caregiver, you know someone who is.
Care for the aged is by far the biggest category. Seven out of ten family caregivers help a loved one over 50 years old. And those senior adults needing long term care and living still in the community rely very heavily on family and friends. In fact, 78% of those seniors have a family-and-friend network as their only source of help. Without the involvement of a family caregiver, these folks would have to live in a facility.
Almost a million and a half children, ages 8 to 18, are the caregivers for a parent or grandparent.
Statistics paint a picture of caregivers who are stretched to provide care for those they love. The “typical” family caregiver is a middle-aged woman with her own immediate family to care for and a job to juggle, besides her role as caregiver. However, the words “family caregiver” describe all manner of people–they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Almost a million and a half children, ages 8 to 18, are the caregivers for a parent or grandparent. Learn much more about these everyday heroes we call family caregivers here.
If you are a family caregiver, you don’t really need statistics to tell you that care-giving is demanding, no matter how much you love the person you are helping. There are sacrifices of your time and energy, often of your money and even your own health. So family caregivers need support and resources to ensure that their loved ones and the caregivers themselves have the best possible quality of life. Check out this resource as a starting point.
November is almost over, but the opportunity to support a family caregiver in your circle is not. Find a way to say “thanks” for his or her dedication. Surprise the caregiver with a cappuccino or invite them for supper. Give a gift certificate for a massage. Just offer a quick hug and word of encouragement. You may be amazed at how a simple “thank you” can encourage and empower.