Rosalyn Carter said it best: “There are only four kinds of people in the world — those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers.”
The backbone of our country’s long-term, home-based, and community-based care systems is the Family Caregiver. Since 1994 the month of November is recognized as National Family Caregivers Month. In 1997, President Clinton signed the first proclamation recognizing November as National Family Caregivers Month this has been proclaimed by an American President annually ever since. The purpose of recognizing Family Caregivers is to draw attention to the many challenges facing family caregivers, advocate for stronger public policy to address family caregiving issues, and raise awareness about community programs that support family caregivers. There are over 65 million American family members caring for their loved ones. This number is up considerably in the last 5 years when it was reported that there were 50 million American families caring for loved ones, and this number will continue to grow as the Baby Boomers begin to turn 65 on January 1, 2011.
Family caregivers provide an unlimited amount of services such as: assisting with ambulation, assisting with personal hygiene, cooking, medication reminders, doctor appointments and emotional support everyday around the clock, just to name a few. It can be an extremely difficult responsibility for an adult child, who has a full time job and in many cases care for children of their own, and also care for their mom or dad at the same time.
Genworth Financial ran a television campaign last year depicting the Family Caregivers as every day Heroes. The campaign went something like this; without a cape, without a mask, without a side kick, or special suit can you still recognize a hero? This Thanksgiving join us in recognizing Family Caregivers nationally for keeping the promise to be there for their aging family members and friends.
To see the television commercial see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0CQpa8Nkig
Make sure that this Thanksgiving if you see a friend, a loved one or a neighbor in the role of being a Family Caregiver, offer to “Share the Care.” By offering to share the care with the Family Caregiver you will enable the Caregiver to get the rest “respite” so that they can be a better caregiver to their loved one. At the very least take the opportunity to reach out to a family caregiver by sending a card of appreciation or a bouquet of flowers to brighten up a family caregiver’s day. While November may be the official month to recognize an individual’s act as a family caregiver, every month and every day is one in which they make a difference.
A special thank you to ALL the heroes and heroines out there every day. As President Barack Obama said in his last address to the National Family Caregivers Association, “The true strength of the American family finds its roots in an unwavering commitment to care for one another.”
Finally, when you are sitting at the Thanksgiving table this year with you family, look around the table recognize the family members that are helping fellow family members with every day activities of daily living. Make a point in recognizing their commitment to caring for their loved one, but also remind them “Share the Care.” Happy Thanksgiving.