A Season for Caring: National Family Caregivers Month
November is National Family Caregivers Month, honoring the nearly 44 million American adults who dedicate their lives to caring for elderly or disabled family members. The month-long celebration also aims to raise awareness of the challenges faced by caregivers, educate communities and policymakers, and increase support and resources for these important local heroes.
- Adults aged 45-64 are most likely to act as caregivers. About one-quarter of adults in this age group in the US are caring for an elderly adult.
- Most caregivers are caring for a relative or other loved one. Forty-two percent care for a parent, 15 percent care for a friend or neighbor, 14 percent care for a child, 7 percent care for a parent-in-law, and 7 percent care for a grandparent.
- The average age of spousal caregivers is 62 years old.
- The economic value of services provided by family caregivers, most of whom are unpaid, reached around $470 billion in 2013 and continues to increase steadily.
- An estimated six-in-ten caregivers have jobs outside of their caregiving role, with nearly half working full-time.
- Caregivers have reported feeling discriminated against at work; this is reported more often by caregivers who are caring for someone with a mental illness or intellectual disability. Caregivers of those with mental illnesses also report feeling higher emotional stress than caregivers of those with physical disabilities.
- Many caregivers also say that it is very difficult to find affordable services for their loved one.
Caring for the Caregivers
Caregivers play a crucial role in our families and communities, and the need for caregivers will only increase as the US elderly population grows. This means that more of our family and friends, and even we ourselves, will face the challenges that come along with providing care for a disabled or elderly loved one. Some of these challenges became glaringly obvious during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many caregivers found themselves isolated and facing increased financial stress while still needing to maintain their caregiving responsibilities.
So how can we better support our family members, friends, and colleagues who act as caregivers?
- Listen actively and compassionately.
- Educate yourself on their loved one’s condition.
- Don’t judge or offer unsolicited opinions on decisions regarding their loved one or family.
- Be respectful of their schedules and routines.
- Don’t share horror stories about caregiving or things like nursing homes or medical facilities.
- Offer help (running errands, dropping off dinner, etc.) without waiting to be asked.
- Offer to spend time with their loved one so the caregiver can have time to themselves.
- Keep reaching out to include them, even if they rarely accept invitations.
- Be on the look-out for signs of burnout, including withdrawal, social isolation, and depression. If you notice any concerning signs, help them find resources to help.
The theme of 2021 National Family Caregivers Month is #BeCareCurious. This theme is intended to encourage caregivers to take care of themselves as well by reaching out for help, getting additional training and education, and engaging in self-care. When caregivers take care of themselves, they will be better equipped to take care of their loved ones, and they will also be better able to thrive in their own right.
To all of our caregivers, thank you for all you do!
WORKPLACE SOLUTIONS is a group of dedicated professionals who provide assistance and resources to individuals and families to create a satisfying and meaningful life. We’re counselors, attorneys, financial professionals, and experienced specialists in a wide variety of fields. Because life’s challenges and opportunities show up in a range of different areas, we provide assistance in a number of different ways.