Caregiver. It is the name affectionally given to individuals who provide care to an individual in need. In most cases, a caregiver helps a family member, friend, spouse, or neighbor with daily activities and medical needs. Informal caregivers provide care for free, while formal caregivers charge for their services. While rewarding, caregiving is also both emotionally and physically draining. November – National Family Caregiving Month – is a time to appreciate those who provide care for someone other than themselves.
There are a little more than 40 million Americans who provide unpaid caregiving to adults and children. A little more than 80 percent of caregivers are responsible for one adult, 15 percent care for two, and 3 percent care for three or more. Roughly 15.7 million family caregivers provide care to a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Caregivers are everywhere – and there is a very real chance you will provide care for a family member before you pass away.
National Family Caregiving Month
The goal of National Family Caregivers Month is to educate on issues family caregivers face. The month is also a time to pay respects to all the work a family caregiver does on a daily basis. This year is an extra important milestone, as it marks the 20th anniversary of the National Family Caregivers Month since it was established via presidential proclamation back in 1997.
Every year, people celebrate National Family Caregivers Month with a specific theme. “Caregiving around the clock” is the theme this year. The point of the theme is to acknowledge that caregiving is a 24-hour job. For someone who has an aging family member or a child with special needs, you do not get to take time off from your job as a caregiver. This is true even if it your caregiving position is unpaid. By the end of the month, the hope is to raise as much awareness and provide as much support to caregivers as possible.
Caregiving Can Put a Strain on Someone
Statistically, only a third of individuals who provide nonstop care for an aging family or a child with special needs receive some kind of assistance. Not receiving any type of assistance is one of the biggest reasons why becoming a caregiver leads to many health issues, including depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure.
A parent with a special needs child, for example, without financial assistance must find a stream of income they can maintain in addition to caring for their child 24 hours a day. This means a family caregiver – in a lot of cases – must find a way to maintain two full-time jobs. Unfortunately, this does not leave a lot of time for the individual to also take care of themselves.
There Is a Lack of Education
Perhaps the most terrifying part of caregiving is the lack of education and information available. Many family caregivers – such as that parent with the special needs child mentioned before – qualify for some sort of financial assistance. Some even qualify for extra services, such as respite care. Respite care allows the caregiver to take a break while someone who is licensed and trained temporarily takes over. In most cases, insurance covers respite care.
Caregivers are incredibly giving and generous individuals who find a way to take care of themselves, their families, and the extra children or adults, as well. Caregivers should use the month of November as an opportunity to learn more about what type of support is available to help ease the task of providing care for a loved one.
Do you see yourself becoming a caregiver in the future? Check out our article, “5 Skills You Need To Be A Great Caregiver.”