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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Every November, this annual observance recognizes and honors the dedication and commitment of family caregivers who provide care and support to their loved ones.
Raising awareness about family caregivers helps acknowledge their vital role in society, promotes understanding of their challenges, and encourages support and resources.
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.
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.