I will be your God throughout your lifetime- until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. Isaiah 46:4
Across our country, more than 90 million Americans take up the selfless and unheralded work of delivering care to seniors, people with disabilities, or individuals suffering from various kinds of illnesses. The role caregivers play in our healthcare system is one we must recognize and support. November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time set aside to thank these tireless heroes for the long, challenging work they perform every day behind closed doors and without fanfare. The month is our opportunity to recommit to ensuring the well-being of our loved ones and ourselves as caregivers.
Caregiver Facts (Source: Caregivers Action Network)
Each year, more and more Americans are caring for a loved one, suffering from a chronic condition, disability, or the frailties of ageing. Here are some facts about this growing segment of our population.
Two out of every 5 adults are family caregivers. 39% of all adult Americans are caring for a loved one who is sick or disabled – up from 30% in 2010. Alzheimer’s is driving the numbers up. More than 15 million family caregivers are providing care to more than 5 million loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s not just the elderly, however, who need caregiving. The number of parents caring for children with special needs is increasing due to the rise in cases of many chronic conditions among children in early childhood.
Wounded veterans require family caregivers, too. As many as 1 million Americans are caring in their homes for service members who are suffering from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other wounds and illnesses, which resulted from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars
Caregiving is not limited only to women; men are also giving care. Men are now almost as likely to say they are family caregivers as women are (37% of men; 40% of women). In addition, 36% of younger Americans between ages 18 and 29 are family caregivers as well. These statistics include 1 million young people who care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s.
Care for the Caregiver. The Caregiver Action Network (previously known as the National Family Caregivers Association) began promoting a weeklong celebration of family caregivers in 1994. President Clinton signed the first presidential proclamation in 1997 and every president since — Democratic and Republican alike — has issued an annual proclamation honoring family caregivers. As awareness of family caregiving grew, National Family Caregivers Week evolved into National Family Caregivers Month, which we celebrate every November (Read the Caregiver Action Network Top 10 Tips for Family Caregivers).
The Bottom Line: Family Caregiving is Serious Work.
“Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God commanded you. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Deuteronomy 5:16
According to the Caregiver Action Network, almost half of family caregivers perform complex medical/nursing tasks for their loved ones. Tasks include responsibilities such as administering or managing multiple medications, providing wound care, and operating specialized medical equipment. As advances in medicine have prolonged life, the need for care has become more acute. So a shutout goes to the women and men who care for our love ones. We value your devotion and skills.
This blog post was written with source data obtained from the Caregiver Action Network website. www.caregiveraction.org