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  • Writer's pictureArwen Rasmussen

Celebrate Family Caregiver Month

Wisconsin Family & Caregiver Support Alliance (WFACSA) celebrates family caregivers during November’s National Family Caregiver Month. National Family Caregiver Month theme in 2022 is “Caregiving Around the Clock” because that is what it takes to be a family caregiver –around-the-clock dedication, organization, responsibility, scheduling, and hands-on care.

Beginning in 1994, National Family Caregiver Month is a time to recognize America’s many different kinds of family caregivers who care for people of all ages who need help in their daily lives. According to Administration for Community Living (ACL), there are over fifty-three million family caregivers, providing unpaid care, which is an economic value totaling more than $470 billion. Family caregiving can be a privilege and a rewarding opportunity. Caregiving can also be a tough job, sometimes thankless and costly. These responsibilities often leave caregivers overlooking their health and well-being. When our nation’s caregivers suffer, are unhealthy, and unsupported, our country’s older adults and individuals who have a disability also suffer.

In contrast, when our nation’s family caregivers thrive because their loved ones have access to paid support, respite care, peer connections, and necessary therapeutic & medical care, our country thrives.

The work done by family caregivers has long been the safety net of the American long-term care system. Family caregivers are advocates who work tirelessly to keep people in their homes for as long as possible and out of expensive nursing homes. They fill in the gaps when an in-home care worker is absent for scheduled visits. They are the people who attend doctor’s visits and help give care recipients a voice; they function as chauffeurs to & from medical appointments, pharmacy trips, and grocery store runs. They miss sleeping many nights in a row to ensure their loved one with dementia does not wander away. They provide personal care for bathing, dressing, and grooming. Often, they even carry out complex medical tasks typically performed in hospitals by nursing staff, including medication management, wound care, and even observing pulse oximeters & ventilators for signs of respiratory distress.

How would you manage? What would you need as a family caregiver to carry on? Consider these questions, as it is likely that each of us will be a caregiver one day. In fact, writer, advocate, and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter famously declared, “There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers."

In honor of National Family Caregivers Month, we encourage every person to reflect and identify the friend or neighbor in their life who is in the role of family caregiver. Family caregivers need you! Be open and intentional about offering support. It could be doing a household chore, lawn care, or laundry, providing a meal, a grocery run or a lending an empathetic ear. Most importantly offer them grace and flexibility when with them at work, church, or family gatherings.

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