We’ve entered National Family Caregivers Month, a time to appreciate, recognize, and celebrate the amazing work of family caregivers caring for aging loved ones and others. Today’s family caregivers find themselves in good company and in growing numbers.
An estimated 41.8 million American adults are caregivers for an elderly, ill or disabled loved one. More of them—about 24 percent—are caring for two or more loved ones (up from 18 percent in 2015), according to the Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 Report co-authored by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving. As the senior population grows, and the need for in-home care increases as well—nearly four in 10 seniors have at least one disability—these unpaid caregivers provide an estimated 37 billion hours of informal care every year to family members, friends and neighbors.
The Rewarding Yet Stressful Path of the Family Caregiver
Though caring for a loved one can be rewarding in several ways, the demands placed on family caregivers often lead to stress and burnout. This is most common for those in the sandwich generation—middle-aged adults caring for an aging parent while also still supporting their own children. Though caregiving is a labor of love, it can be physically and emotionally draining.
Being a family caregiver may create financial strain as well—as many caregivers tend to reduce their work hours or take unpaid leaves of absence. LTCNews advises getting a plan of care in place for both the senior care recipient and the family, as most Long-Term Care insurance (LTCi) policies have benefits to pay for in-home care by a professional caregiver.
At Amada Senior Care, we strongly believe that supporting family caregivers is essential for the well-being of everyone involved and it’s for this reason that our trained caregivers are here to support not only senior clients but family members as well. Even the simplest act of support for these family caregivers can mean the world. However, many of these caregivers will not ask for help— that’s why it’s important for all of us to reach out and encourage them and ask what we can do to support them.
What is Family Caregivers Month?
Every November, the National Family Caregivers Association raises awareness about the hard work, dedication, and love that family caregivers provide for their loved ones. This observance serves as a platform to raise awareness about the struggles and issues caregivers face daily and offers helpful resources and support to them.
Why is it Important to Support Family Caregivers?
Family caregivers are often the main source of support for our aging loved ones, providing physical, emotional, and sometimes medical care. In most instances, these caregivers have their own responsibilities, such as work and family, which can make their caregiving roles even more challenging. By supporting family caregivers, we share their burden and improve the quality of life for everyone involved.
How Can We Support Family Caregivers?
Acknowledge their efforts: Recognize their hard work and dedication by simply telling them how much you appreciate what they do for their loved ones. A little acknowledgment goes a long way in boosting morale and motivation.
Offer help: Offering assistance, even with small tasks, can help relieve some of their stress. You can prepare a meal, help with housekeeping, run errands, or provide transportation to medical appointments.
Provide respite care: Giving caregivers a break from their duties allows them to recharge their batteries and maintain their emotional and physical well-being. Consider offering to take care of their loved one for a few hours a week, on weekends, or during emergencies.
Connect them with resources: Inform them about support groups, educational materials, and services available in their community. Agencies like ours can assist in providing nonmedical support, such as companionship, personal care, and home assistance, making their caregiving role more manageable.
Be a good listener: Sometimes, caregivers just need someone to talk to, vent frustrations, and share their thoughts and emotions. Lend a sympathetic ear and offer encouragement and advice when appropriate, but most importantly, just be there for them.
Recognize the signs of caregiver burnout: Help them stay in tune with their mental, emotional, and physical health, and encourage them to seek support when needed. Suggest they consider therapy or counseling if they’re experiencing burnout symptoms, such as anxiety, exhaustion, irritability, or diminished interest in activities they once enjoyed.
Amada Senior Care Helps Support Family Caregivers and Aging Loved Ones
By supporting and acknowledging the valuable work of family caregivers, we create a connection that benefits the caregiver, their loved one, and the entire community. As we celebrate Family Caregivers Month, let’s all work together to provide support and encouragement to these unsung heroes who make a difference in so many lives. Feel free to contact us at Amada if you need nonmedical support or have any questions.
“Supporting Care Heroes Beyond Family Caregivers Month,” written by Michelle Flores, Amada blog contributor.