Last updated: November 19. 2013 11:13AM - 468 Views

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Pamela K. Matura, Executive Director, Area Agency on Aging District 7

National Family Caregiver Month is observed every November around the world to draw attention to the many challenges facing family caregivers, to advocate for public policy to address family caregiver issues, and to raise awareness about the community programs that support family caregivers. The first presidential proclamation to promote the celebration of family caregivers began in 1997, and every year since then, a proclamation has been issued to express appreciation for caregivers.

Family caregivers provide $450 billion worth of unpaid care each year. Family caregivers are the backbone of the nation’s long-term care system. There are as many as 90 million family caregivers in the United States today. Information released from the National Family Caregiver Association relays that two out of five adults are family caregivers caring for older adults, grandchildren, family members, neighbors, and friends. Men are now almost as likely to say they are family caregivers as women and 36 percent of younger Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 are family caregivers as well, including one million young people who care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. As many as one million Americans are caring in their homes for military service members who are suffering from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other wounds and illnesses. With the ranks of family caregivers growing every year, we recognize the importance to the nation of the role that family caregivers play.

We believe it is important for places of business to recognize that employees are often providing care for loved ones and may need assistance. As a community member, you can take action by delivering dinner to a caregiving family once a week, offering to provide the caregiver a short break, or providing transportation. The Family Caregiver Support Program at the Area Agency on Aging District 7 (AAA7) can offer advice and check on options that may be in your community depending on availability, eligibility and other factors. As more and more individuals are being cared for at home by loved ones and friends, there is an even greater need to have as much caregiving support options and services available as possible. We will continue to advocate for caregivers and advocate for the continuation and growth of support services and programs to best benefit their needs. To learn more, please call us at 1-800-582-7277.

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