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November: National Family Caregivers Month

 

November: National Family Caregivers Month

Nov. 6, '14
By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

Did you know that two out of every five American adults are family caregivers?

That means that roughly 40 percent of the country’s population is involved in taking care of a loved one with a chronic condition, disability or the frailties of old age.

What’s more, that figure was at 30 percent in 2010—indicating a rapid rise in the number of people needing care, and a number reflecting the first wave of retiring Baby Boomers.

A good number of those giving or getting care involve Alzheimer’s, with over 15 million family caregivers caring for over five million people with the degenerative brain condition.  However, the number of children with special needs being cared for by parents is growing, too.

And close to one million Americans are providing care in their homes for service members enduring post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) or other illnesses and wounds that they received in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Of caregivers themselves, men are almost as likely as women to be caring for family members, and about 35 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 are caregivers, too, contrary to the conventional wisdom that most caregivers are older adults.

Lest you assume that family caregiving revolves around menial labor, be informed that close to half of family caregiving consists of complex nursing care, including managing and administering multiple medications, operating specialized and frequently expensive medical equipment, and providing wound care.

According to estimates, the unpaid care provided by Americans for those they love exceeds some $450 billion in value.

All in all, the importance of the family caregiver cannot be overstated—a critical cog in our society that is highlighted and celebrated each November with National Family Caregivers Month.