U.S. Home caregivers, the nation salutes you! November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time when the selflessness and dedication of home caregivers is recognized and celebrated. If you benefit from having a family caregiver in your life – as the one who receives the care, or as a family member or friend of someone receiving care – take time this month to make that caregiver feel special and appreciated.
If you are a family caregiver, don’t be shy: you deserve to be recognized for all you do, so find a way to let people know about National Family Caregivers Month. At the very least, email this article to them, or print it out and leave it in a conspicuous place in your home.
National Family Caregivers Month was created in 1994 – although at that time it was merely National Family Caregivers Week. (It hardly seems possible to honor all that home caregivers do in a mere week, does it?) In 1997, it was given the important imprimatur of a presidential proclamation, and since then the event has grown in importance and popularity.
Family caregiving impact
Since there are as many as 90 million family caregivers in the U.S. today, it’s clear that this month is honoring a significant percentage of the country’s population. It’s also important to note that home caregivers are providing an invaluable economic service: according to Caregiver Action Network, family caregivers provide $450 billion worth of unpaid care each year.
Make the month count
Everyone who benefits from the commitment of a family caregiver should make a concerted effort during the month of November to celebrate that caregiver’s dedication. (It’s not a bad to do this at other times of the year, as well!) Maybe you already have an idea of how you can show your thanks, but if you need suggestions, consider one or more of the following:
- Give home caregivers a break. Often, a family caregiver has difficulty tending to his or her own needs. Volunteer to take over caregiving responsibilities for an hour, an evening, or a whole day – whatever you are able to do. Let a caregiver know the luxury of taking care of his or her own business, or even enjoying a quite dinner out.
- Look ahead to the holidays. Offer to do something to make the Thanksgiving or Christmas/Hanukkah season a little less hectic: have dinner or Seder at your house or offer to go out and pick up and decorate the Christmas tree.
- Run errands. Call and ask if you can pick up groceries this week or take Father to his doctor’s appointment on Wednesday.
- Give a little gift. A small bouquet of flowers or a little box of candies is a nice way to say thank you; if money is really tight, offering to give a foot massage or vacuum the house is a beautiful alternative.
Home caregivers are the unsung heroes of our nation; make a point of singing their praises during the month of November, and keep on singing them all year round!