National Family Caregivers Month

National Family Caregivers Month: Taking Better Care of Our Own

November marks National Family Caregivers Month, where we honor family caregivers caring for their loved ones, often at their own expense. 

Moreover, celebrating family caregivers recognizes the selfless contributions of family caregivers who work behind closed doors to provide constant care to the elderly, chronically ill, and disabled. 

This month aims to shed light on family caregiving and their crucial role in supporting their loved ones. Read on to learn more.

Featured in: November - Awareness Months, Days & Observances.

History and Background of National Family Caregivers Month

taking care of elderly people
Photo by Georg Arthur Pflueger on Unsplash

Suzanne Mintz, co-founder of the National Family Caregivers Association (now the Caregiver Action Network), conceptualized National Family Caregivers Month in November 1994. That year, the group began promoting national recognition of caregivers.

The month's objective was to raise awareness about chronic illness and acknowledge the contributions of caregivers who provide emotional, financial, nursing, social, and homemaking support to their loved ones. 

In 1997, former President Clinton signed the annual proclamation recognizing the cause. Subsequent leaders have issued NFC month presidential proclamations every year following Clinton's lead.

Over the years, the month focuses on caregivers' many challenges, including health issues, isolation, financial strains, and respite care. In 2012, the Caregiver Action Network began to assign each year's observance a unique identity by introducing themed campaigns. The 2023 theme was “Caregiving Around the Clock.”

A significant milestone was achieved in 2018 with the introduction of the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act, which mandated the creation of a national strategy to support family caregivers. 

National Family Caregivers Month has grown significantly since its inception. Various organizations and municipalities have issued proclamations and hosted events to shine a light on caregivers.

The Cause and Its Challenges

Family caregivers often face a lack of recognition and policy support, which adds to their already overwhelming responsibilities. A staggering 53 million caregivers in the US look after children or older adults with disabilities or illnesses2, representing 21.3% of the population. 

The economic value of unpaid care provided by caregivers was estimated to be $600 billion in 2021; experts expect the figure to have increased over the years1.

Caregiving can significantly affect individuals’ mental health, with feelings of guilt, sadness, and frustration becoming common.  Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified these challenges, increasing their responsibilities and isolation due to social distancing measures. 

Despite these difficulties, caregivers continue to navigate their journey with remarkable resilience and strength.

Efforts and Initiatives

showing care
Photo by truthseeker08 on Pixabay

The National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) advocates for improvements in public policy to help family caregivers. While their focus is primarily on policy, they also promote research and education to advance the well-being of caregivers.

Furthermore, the Australian government has launched the National Carer Strategy, a nationwide effort to support the tireless work of unpaid caregivers. Meanwhile, the UK government's Carer Action Plan 2018 to 2020 is a roadmap for other countries to follow.

How to Get Involved and Support National Family Caregivers Month

writing appreciation letter
Photo by Ana Tavares on Unsplash
  • Educate yourself through credible resources such as Caregiver Action Network’s Family Caregiver Toolbox.
  • Spread information about caregivers and their challenges on social media platforms. Remember to attach the annual observance hashtag #NFCMonth. You can also check CAN’s social media kit for more resources.
  • Share posts, experiences, or articles to reach a wider audience and inspire them to support caregivers’ welfare. 
  • Influence government officials to enact policies that increase support for family caregivers and provide essential resources. 
  • Honor family caregivers taking care of their older or disabled loved ones. A simple note or a helping hand can make a difference.
  • Educate communities to help improve family caregivers' welfare.

Conclusion

We must recognize and celebrate the vital role that healthcare professionals play in our society. Let us give them the necessary resources and support to continue their pivotal work, especially since we'd have to step into the shoes of a family caregiver.

No matter how small, every act can make a difference. Our shared mission is to lend a helping hand to these heroes in our communities.

National Family Caregivers Month FAQs

1. What is National Family Caregivers Month?

Every November, this annual observance recognizes and honors the dedication and commitment of family caregivers who provide care and support to their loved ones.

2. Why should we raise awareness about family caregivers?

Raising awareness about family caregivers helps acknowledge their vital role in society, promotes understanding of their challenges, and encourages support and resources.

3. What are some caregiving issues?

Family caregivers often face physical and emotional stress, financial burdens, and time constraints while caring for their loved ones. They may also experience isolation and lack of support.

4. How can I support National Family Caregivers Month?

Start by acknowledging and honoring family caregivers in your life. Then, volunteer or donate to organizations that support and empower caregivers and advocate for policies and programs that address the needs of family caregivers.

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1

Reinhard, S. C., Caldera, S., Houser, A., & Choula, R. (2023). Valuing the Invaluable: 2023 update.

2

 AARP., National Alliance for Caregiving. (2020) Caregiving in the United States 2020.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

Photo by Dominik Lange on Unsplash
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