Caregivers face challenges day and night. Caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s or a child with special needs can be non-stop. On top of that, caregivers sometimes need to suddenly rush to the hospital or leave work at the drop of a hat.
There are 90 million family caregivers across the country — that’s two out of every five adults. What’s more, six out of ten family caregivers work full- or part-time in addition to juggling their caregiving responsibilities at home. For most caregivers, days just aren’t long enough.
Most care occurs in the home — not in hospitals, nursing homes, or doctor offices. Most people want to grow old in their own home. It’s been shown that people are healthier at home and home care can reduce health care costs. While that’s a good thing for the patient, it can make life quite difficult for their family caregiver. Caregiving at home takes a lot of time — the one thing no one ever seems to have enough of.
A 24/7 Job
Caregiving may begin with a frantic phone call from the emergency room in the middle of the night. It may begin slowly over time. Either way, it has a way of eventually crowding out other important areas of a caregiver’s life. Caregiving takes place at all times throughout the day. Whether it is taking a spouse with MS to a doctor’s appointment during lunch, leaving work unexpectedly to retrieve a parent with Alzheimer’s who has wandered off or rising early to get a special needs child ready for school, caregiving doesn’t care what time it is.
That’s why Caregiver Action Network feels this year’s National Family Caregivers Month theme, “Caregiving Around the Clock,” is so appropriate. Family caregivers provide the daily assistance needed to keep their loved ones healthy. They make sure medications are taken on time, handle doctor appointments and deal with medical emergencies. Family caregivers give so much, even to the detriment of their own health, career and family. Creating a balance between caring for your loved one and caring for yourself is difficult. And often, caring for yourself takes a back seat.
We celebrate National Family Caregivers Month each November as a time to recognize and honor family caregivers across the country. It’s why we’re here for caregivers around the clock, just like they are for their loved ones.
Though there are many kinds of family caregivers, the one thing they all have in common is their love and dedication. Family caregiving is not easy. But it may be one of the most important roles anyone will ever take on in life. It is truly a labor of love. It comes from the heart. Caregiving brings out the best in people. Caregiving is doing what must be done, and expecting nothing in return.