National Family Caregiver Month is a nationally recognized month that seeks to draw attention to the challenges that caregiving families face and raise awareness for the many programs in the communities that support caregivers.
With so much in the news these days about health care coverage, access, and the needs of the elderly, it is important to remember that families -- not social service agencies, nursing homes or government programs -- are the mainstay for older persons in this country.
Today, more than 22.4 million persons are informal caregivers who provide unpaid help to older persons. These caregiver spouses, adult children, relatives and friends help with shopping, transportation and household chores as well as bathing, dressing, meals and medications.
Already family caregivers provide more than 80 percent of all homecare services. Collectively, it is believed that these individuals contribute some $257 billion annually to the nation's health care system -- an amount that significantly reduces costs to Medicare, Medicaid and private payers. Yet although they are making a huge contribution, these caregivers -- mostly women -- often experience substantial stresses and burdens as a consequence.
Think of a family caregiver you know, whether a neighbor, relative, co-worker or friend, and offer them a helping hand. Be specific -- offer a ride to church, a nourishing meal, or a free afternoon. Just a little bit of help makes a difference for family caregivers.
board of directors for Jayhawk Area Agency
on Aging, Inc.