This month we recognize “the good” – and we mean, overwhelming good – being done by the more than 65 million caregivers in the United States. Close to one in three people around us is a caregiver. By definition, a caregiver is someone who provides care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend during any given year and spends an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one. These caregivers provide an astounding $375 billion in “free” services each year.
The average caregiver is responsible for more than their sick, disabled or aging loved one. The Caregiver Action Network has used its data to paint a picture of the standard caregiver among us…and let us tell you, she’s busy. She’s a 49-year-old woman caring for her widowed mother who does not live with her. She is married and employed, and there’s a 37% chance she is caring for a child or grandchild in her home at the same time. As a female caregiver, she is 2.5 times more likely than her non-caregiver counterpart to live in poverty.
Many caregivers report that their own health is fair or poor, particularly if they are caring for a person with dementia. Even more so, nearly three in four caregivers report not going to the doctor for themselves as often as they should.
That’s why the National Family Caregivers Month is focused on a “Take Care to Give Care” theme this year in November. Its purpose is to remind caregivers to take care of themselves and it’s a call for the rest of us to take notice of caregivers and do what we can to offer rest, recharge or respite for them. In fact, it’s so important that President Obama released a Presidential Proclamation about it, which you can read here.
The Family Caregiver Alliance® offers an online navigation system for finding help for family caregivers in every state. And while awareness of caregiving is our main goal here, we also want to point out that if you are a caregiver in Indiana, you have two outstanding in-state resources, as the last two recipients of the National Adult Day Center Award were Joy’s House in Indianapolis (2015) and the YMCA Betty J. McCormick Center in Vincennes (2016). Both of these organizations offer services for adults living with an illness, dementia or disability a place where they can receive care for some part of the day. Joy’s House, in particular, offers Caregiver Support and Education Programs as well.
So, if you’re like us, we’ll be giving great thanks to the caregivers amidst us during this season of gratitude! Happy Thanksgiving to all!