Family Caregivers Honored in November
November is National Family Caregivers Month. Being a family caregiver is a tough, and often thankless, job. But being a family caregiver can also be rewarding work, and a family member is often the right person for the job.
Family caregivers include a wide range of people. According to an AARP caregiving report released in 2020, it is estimated that there are 53 million family caregivers in the United States. Parents caring for children under the age of 18 are not included in that number. The vast majority of those 53 million people are caring for adults over the age of 50, and this trend is likely to increase with the aging baby boomer population.
Being a Family Caregiver is Tough Work
Caring for a family member can be a difficult job. There is no formal training; the time required is variable, and each day can bring new challenges. There is often no clear picture of whether the job may be temporary or permanent, so burnout is common.
In some families, the person you are caring for lacks the capacity to appreciate your hard work and sacrifices. Sometimes siblings do not agree on the best course of action for caring for aging parents, and this may lead to conflict. Different family members may provide different forms of care such as financial support or daily help with basic needs; these differences may be another source of tension as some people can value one method of care over another.
Family caregiving is largely unpaid work. Professional caregivers are the people you hire to provide care, and they are financially rewarded for their services. Rules on reimbursing family members for care provided to one another vary by state (and sometimes by family wishes). Some definitions of the term “family caregiver” specify that it is a person providing unpaid care for a relative or friend.
Being a Family Caregiver is Rewarding Work
Family caregivers are needed, and the work can be very rewarding. You get to show your appreciation for someone else, and that person may really appreciate your efforts. A large number of family caregivers are adult children who are caring for aging parents. Being a family caregiver provides you with a great opportunity to honor your father and mother in their later years (and you thought that commandment was just about your kids listening to you).
Caregiving can also give you a better appreciation of what is really important in life. You might learn new things that give you a better perspective on your own future and allow you to better prepare for aging. You might start thinking more about staying healthy, maintaining social connections, and living close to family members.
In addition to help your loved ones in their time of need, family caregivers usually find a greater sense of purpose and meaning in their own lives when they provide care for others. It can strengthen relationships, and you may learn new things about yourself and your loved ones.
Thank You for Being a Family Caregiver
To the millions of Americans who dedicate their time and efforts to being a family caregiver, thank you! At Guide Change, we welcome the opportunity to assist family and financial caregivers (such as a people with a durable financial power of attorney) in any way that we can. Now is a great time for everyone to thank and support the family caregivers in their families. Have a great month and holiday season!