November Is National Family Caregivers Month

There are as many as 90 million family caregivers in the U.S. today, and their contribution is thought to be equivalent to $450 billion in caregiving services every year.  This number is steadily increasing, as more Americans are caring for a loved one with a chronic condition, disability, special need, or the frailties of old age.  

In November, we celebrate National Family Caregivers Month to honor these caregivers who provide unpaid care services or support networks to those who need care.  National Family Caregivers Month began in 1994 as a week-long celebration, promoted by the National Family Caregivers Association, which was meant to coincide with the Thanksgiving holiday. In 1997, President Bill Clinton showed his support for the celebration by recognizing it with a presidential proclamation — one that has been renewed every year by each succeeding president. In recent years, this initial week-long period has been extended to a last an entire month.     

The theme this year’s National Family Caregivers Month is “Family Caregivers – Now More Than Ever!” In his proclamation, President Obama states “During National Family Caregivers Month, we thank these tireless heroes for the long, challenging work they perform behind closed doors and without fanfare every day, and we recommit to ensuring the well-being of their loved ones and of the caregivers themselves.”

Below are some facts about caregiving in the U.S.:             

  • 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.
  • Around 86% of caregivers are between the ages 30 and 64. Many, if not most caregivers, have to balance their commitments to loved ones with work responsibilities or the needs of other family members. Read more in our article about The Sandwich Generation.
  • 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 who need caregiving.  The number of parents caring for children with special needs is increasing, too, due to the rise in cases of many childhood conditions such as autism.
  • Wounded veterans also require family caregivers.  As many as 1 million Americans are caring in their homes for service members from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are suffering from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other wounds and illnesses.
  • Men are now almost as likely to say they are family caregivers as women are (37% of men; 40% of women). Read our article about Men as Caregivers.
  • Almost half of family caregivers perform complex medical/nursing tasks for their loved ones – such as managing multiple medications, providing wound care, and operating specialized medical equipment.

Caregiving can be very rewarding emotionally, and one recent study has even found a correlation between caregiving and decreased mortality rates (Read our blog post about this Johns Hopkins study). The work, however, is also both emotionally and mentally taxing, and can easily lead to caregiver burnout (Read our blog post about caregiver burnout and how to minimize the stresses involved with caregiving). This November and all year long, remember to thank family caregivers for their strength, courage and commitment in providing long-term patient care.

At the Fairfax and Fredericksburg Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C., we recognize that caring for a loved one strains even the most resilient people. If you’re a caregiver, take steps to preserve your own health and well-being.  Part of taking care of yourself is planning for your future and for your loved ones. Please call us at our Virginia Elder Law Fairfax office at 703-691-1888 or at our Virginia Elder Law Fredericksburg office at 540-479-1435 to make an appointment for a consultation.<.


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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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