CanCare Supports Caregivers During National Family Caregivers Month
November 15, 2022
This November, CanCare celebrates National Family Caregivers Month! Cancer caregivers are a critical part of CanCare’s volunteer community, providing support for those caring for a loved one with cancer. If you have cared for a loved one facing cancer, we would love for you to join our CanCare caregiver family!
What is National Family Caregivers Month?
Started in 1994 and made official by presidential proclamation annually since 1997, National Family Caregivers Month is an opportunity to not only appreciate the sacrifices made by family caregivers but to raise awareness of the unique challenges they face every day. With the number of people requiring part or full-time care growing year by year, it is more important than ever for all of us to understand how we can support family caregivers across the nation.
According to the AARP, more than 20%, or an estimated 53 million American adults performed the role of caregiver in 2020. While providing vital care to the ones you love can be an incredibly fulfilling experience, it can also take a significant toll on the mental, emotional, physical, and financial health of even the most dedicated family caregiver.
How did it get started?
For nearly 30 years, the Caregiver Action Network (CAN) has spearheaded the movement now recognized as National Family Caregivers Month. It is intended to honor the people making daily sacrifices to care for family members with health issues and to draw attention to the difficulties they face. President Bill Clinton signed the first presidential proclamation establishing the national month in November 1997, an action that has been repeated by the president every year since.
Each year, a theme is set for National Family Caregivers Month focusing on a different aspect of providing family care. These themes have included a focus on making a caregiver’s responsibilities easier and more efficient (Supercharge Your Caregiving, 2018) and raising awareness of the full-time nature of being a family caregiver, especially for those who also work (Caregiving Around the Clock 2017). In recent years, a hashtag has been established to help promote these themes, like #CaregivingHappens, the theme for 2022.
Why was National Family Caregivers Month established?
People dealing with health problems like cancer or disability face many challenges, from accomplishing day-to-day tasks to grappling with the mental and emotional effects of their current situation. Organizations like CanCare strive to provide the services that such people need, but the needs of caregivers are too often overlooked.
Hectic and unpredictable schedules can wear on one’s mental health. Necessary medication and medical equipment is usually expensive and can be a big financial drain, even with the assistance of insurance. The emotional toll of experiencing a loved one going through a painful and uncertain situation is a heavy one. All of these are things that family caregivers must deal with regularly, and many times they can become too much for someone to handle alone.
National Family Caregivers Month is a time for everyone to step back and acknowledge the struggles faced by caregivers, and to come together to help provide them with the support and resources they need.
How can you participate?
As mentioned above, this year’s theme is #CaregivingHappens, and focuses on raising awareness of the unpredictable nature of providing care to a family member. Not only is it nearly impossible to predict when a loved one will find themselves in need of a caregiver, but the time requirements of providing it are very difficult to reliably planfor. A caregiver may have to pick up medication, drive their family member to an appointment, or have to deal with an emergency, usually with little to no warning. For people who are friends, coworkers, or otherwise acquainted with family caregivers, it is important to be understanding and take these things into consideration, or better yet, to offer to help! Some ways you can help care for the family caregivers in your life include:
Lend a sympathetic ear
We all just need to vent sometimes, and caregivers are no different. One of the most effective ways to show your support is to simply be available to listen to the struggles, worries, and triumphs that a family caregiver is experiencing.
Volunteer some of your free time
Caregivers sacrifice a lot of their personal time for those they are caring for, so giving them some back can make a huge difference. Offer to take over for them for a night so they can go out for dinner or see a movie.
Offer to help, however you’re able
The duties of a caregiver can easily become overwhelming. Having someone else available to help out with the long list of tasks can make it all feel much more manageable. Even if you don’t have formal training, you can offer to grab lunch, clean up, or run errands.
Spread the word about National Family Caregiver Month
Join in raising awareness about what caregivers do and what they deal with every day. Bring it up with your friends and family, post to social media, and spread the word about National Family Caregivers Month any way you can!
Support caregiver assistance organizations
If you don’t know any caregivers directly or want to help in a more monetary way, find an organization that provides resources for caregivers and make a donation. Better yet, if you have caregiving experience, you can volunteer your time and expertise to help a fellow family caregiver. At CanCare, we pair caregivers who are experiencing difficulties with someone who has been through a similar experience and can understand what they are going through.
CanCare proudly supports National Family Caregivers Month!
However you may choose to participate, CanCare encourages you to join us in observing National Family Caregivers Month this month and every November! If you know a family caregiver, show your support or ask them how you can help. If you are a caregiver and need help managing your mental or emotional health, contact us today. We know that caregivers need support, too, and we’re here to help you find all the resources you need.
From all of us at CanCare, thank you, caregivers!