National Caregivers Month
National Caregivers Month is celebrated each November since 1994 to recognize and honor family caregivers across the country. Celebrating this month gives the opportunity to raise awareness of family caregiver issues, to celebrate the efforts of caregivers, to educate family caregivers on self-identification, and to increase support for them.
What is a Caregiver?
A caregiver is an unpaid or paid member of the family that helps with daily activities and everything connected. Typical daily duties of a caregiver may include taking care of someone with a chronic disease or illness, managing medications and communicating with doctors or nurses, helping to bathe and dress someone that is disabled, preparing meals, and taking care of house chores.
Usually when you mention caregiving people associate the word with providing care to the elder, disabled or diseased people, but there are caregivers in the animal community as well.
They care for the needs of the animals such as feed, water, groom, bathe, and exercising pets and other non-farm animals. These animal caregivers work in a variety of places such as kennels, zoos, sanctuaries, shelters, veterinary clinics, pet stores, etc.
Animal caregivers train, feed, groom and exercise the animals. In their spare time, they clean, disinfect and repair cages and training areas. While playing and providing companionship, they observe the animals for behavioral problems, injuries, or diseases. All caregivers attend to the basic needs of the animals, but experience caregivers may help the veterinarians with vaccinations and euthanasia.
Caregiver Action Network is an organization that chooses the theme for National Caregivers Month annually and spearheads the celebration of NFC Month nationally.
It is the nation’s leading family caregiver organization working to improve the quality of life for the more than 90 million Americans who care for loved ones with chronic conditions, disabilities, disease, or the frailties of old age.
Caregiver Action Network (the National Family Caregivers Association) began promoting national recognition of family caregivers in 1994. President Clinton signed the first NFC Month Presidential Proclamation in 1997 and every president since has followed suit by issuing an annual proclamation recognizing and honoring family caregivers each November.
In America alone, 43.5 million people have provided unpaid care to an adult or a child in the last 12 months.82% of caregivers care only for one other adult, while 15% care for 2 adults, and 3% for 3 or more adults. Recently, informal caregivers have INCREASED THE value of their service provided; while unpaid, the value they add to the economy is approximated to be $470 billion in 2013, up from $375 billion in 2007.
How to Celebrate National Caregivers Month
- Gift of respite care – help a caregiver by caring for their loved one for a day
- Help with a task – offer to take permanent care of a task, like taking care of the pharmacy run or preparing a meal once a week
- Make a team of care partner to help coordinate daily tasks
- Celebrate them – throw a party in their name
- Encourage them and show them how much appreciated they are, sometimes they need to hear this out loud
Don’t Forget to Care for Fourself as Well!
If you are a caregiver don’t forget to care for yourself also. A lot of caregivers have so much on their plates and they forget to take care of themselves.
- Find time to find emotional support, join a support group where you can meet and talk to people that understand you.
- Make sure to get enough sleep, at least 7 hours every night.
- Never be embarrassed to ask and receive help. You are a superhero but all superheroes have sidekicks too.
- If you’re not sure how to take care of your family member, find formal training. There are in-person sessions, workshops, and even online training options.
- Don’t forget about your emotions
- If you feel overwhelmed – take a break even if that is a 15-minute power nap
- Develop a routine so you can get back to your “normal life” easier when you start caring for a loved one
- Don’t be ashamed to share the responsibilities with other family member or professionals
Facts About Caregiving And Caregivers
- About 44.4 million people in America are family caregivers
- The average age of a family caregiver is 64
- 61% of caregivers are women
- The average length of time caregivers provide care is 4.3 years
- Approximately 22.9 million households provide unpaid care to an adult family member or friend
- This “free” care is not free, most caregivers feel isolated, stressed, even depressed
- The estimated value of caregiving to society is $306 billion annually
- Nearly 60% of caregivers have full-time jobs
- In the past, caregivers were exclusively women, but today 39% are men
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