National Family Caregivers Month 2014

November is National Family Caregivers Month (NFCM) – a time to celebrate and acknowledge caregivers and all that they do for their loved ones. More than 65 million people spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for a loved one, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving. For many caregivers, caregiving is a 24/7 journey.

Caregivers provide comfort and reassurance and promote independence while ensuring safety. They are there to protect loved ones from developing pressure sores and diaper rashes. Caregivers ensure proper diet, encourage regular exercise, and maintain personal hygiene.

Although caregiving can be very rewarding, it can also be exhausting. Caregivers not only provide around-the-clock care for a loved one, but also try to balance a career, family and social life. Many times the responsibilities become too much and caregivers experience "caregiver burnout".

This month, national and local organizations are coming together to acknowledge and show support for all caregivers around the world. Here are several ways you can celebrate a caregiver you know:

  • Give the gift of time. Respite is much needed when you’re providing around-the-clock care for a loved one. The caregiver you know probably hasn’t had a vacation in months and would most likely appreciate a little time off to regroup or spend time with family and families. Offer to help out with their responsibilities by cooking, cleaning and running errands and give them much needed break.
  • Write a letter of thanks. With social media and email, it seems that snail mail is a thing of the past. Giving a handwritten note to a caregiver shows your appreciation for them.
  • Cook dinner. Nothing says thank you like a nice, home cooked meal. Invite a caregiver for a Thanksgiving dinner or help prepare dinner for them.
  • Lend an ear. Many caregivers don’t have any one to confide in when stress levels are high and responsibilities build up. Take some time to listen to the caregiver’s concerns and ask them how they’re doing.
  • Encourage them to find caregiving support. If you aren’t a caregiver yourself, it may be difficult to relate to the caregiver and understand what he or she does on a daily basis. Fortunately there are many online support groups, such as the AgingCare forum, for caregivers to express their concerns and find others who are going through a similar situation.
  • Join the conversation. The theme for this year's NFCM is "Care Comes Home." Share with others how much you appreciate the caregiver in your life by using #CareComesHome on social media.

Find other ways to celebrate the caregiver in your life by visiting Caregiver Action Network and the National Alliance for Caregiving.