President Donald J. Trump proclaims November as National Family Caregiver (NFC) Month to recognize the 44 million plus caregivers across the nation who tirelessly care for their family members across the nation. In the Oct. 31 proclamation Trump said, “We recognize the challenges of caregiving and celebrate the joys of bringing support and comfort to a loved one. We express our gratitude to them for the work they do daily to ensure their loved ones are able to live in their homes and communities.”
Caregiver Action Network (CAN), also referred to as the National Family Caregivers Association, is a nonprofit group providing education, peer support and resources to caregivers across the nation, began promoting this recognition of America’s family caregivers week in 1994. President Clinton signed the first Presidential Proclamation in 1997 and every president since that time has followed his lead by issuing an annual proclamation to recognize caregivers each November, for an entire month.
The term “caregiver” can mean a lot of different things to different people. In some cases, a caregiver (often a working mother of school-aged children) can be a family member, friend or paid helper who takes care of a child, sick, elderly or disabled person. But, as parents grow older, many children become their caregivers, tracking their schedules, managing their medications, taking them to their doctor’s appointments, while juggling both work and family and caregiver responsibilities.
For most, caregiving is a 24-hours a day, seven-days a week job.
Caregiving Tools Make the Job Easier
Through November, CAN’s National Family Caregiver Month encourages us to raise awareness of family caregiver issues and calls for increasing support for their caregiving activities. The event celebrates the efforts of family caregivers and also educates them about self-identification.
CAN says that this year’s theme for National Family Caregiver Month is “Supercharge Your Caregiving,”calling caregivers “superheroes.” Every day caregivers manage medications, transport their loved ones to their doctor appointments. They must balance their job and home caregiving duties, too.
According to CAN, caregivers can “handle it all” by using new caregiving tools. Smart homes, smart locks and wearable sensors can keep a loved one safe and secure, by allowing a caregiver to monitor their activities and be notified for falls and emergencies.
Online patient medical records can allow caregivers easy access to medical and insurance information of their loved ones. Other tools allow you to track meds to make sure they are taken properly and on time, and getting refills. which can be especially challenging if more than one medication is take for different chronic conditions.
Finally, CAN says that phone apps can assist caregivers check vital signs, get healthy diets, connect with online support groups. Most important, this technology can also help locate loved ones who wander off.
So, take time to this month and throughout the year to show a caregiver how much you appreciate their efforts.
The National Alliance for Caregiving, partnering with other caregiving associations and groups, provides the following resources (on its website) to help family caregivers cope with the challenges of caring for a loved one.
National Family Caregiver Support Program
The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP), established in 2000, provides grants to States and Territories, based on their share of the population aged 70 and over, to fund a range of supports that assist family and informal caregivers to care for their loved ones at home for as long as possible.
Are you a family caregiver in need of information or assistance? Are you interested in learning more about the programs and services that may be of assistance to you or your loved one? The Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, is the first step to finding resources for older adults in any U.S. community. Just one phone call or Website visit provides an instant connection to resources that enable older persons to live independently in their communities. The service links those who need assistance with state and local area agencies on aging and community-based organizations that serve older adults and their caregivers.
Next Step in Care
Step in Care provides easy-to-use guides to help family caregivers and health care providers work closely together to plan and implement safe and smooth transitions for chronically or seriously ill patients.
Lotsa Helping Hands
Lotsa Helping Hands is a free caregiving coordination web service that provides a private, group calendar where tasks for which a caregiver needs assistance can be posted. Family and friends may visit the site and sign up online for a task. The website generates a summary report showing who has volunteered for which tasks and which tasks remain unassigned. The site tracks each task and notification and reminder emails are sent to the appropriate parties.
Caring.com is the leading online destination for family caregivers seeking information and support as they care for aging parents, spouses, and other loved ones. Caring.com offers helpful content, advice from leading experts, a supportive community of caregivers, and a comprehensive directory of eldercare services. Caring.com’s carefully researched and expert-reviewed content includes advice from a team of more than 50 trusted leaders in geriatric medicine, law, finance, housing, and other key areas of healthcare and eldercare.
WISER (Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement)
Financial Steps for Caregivers: What You Need to Know About Money and Retirement is designed to help you identify financial decisions you may face as a caregiver. The decision to become a caregiver can affect both your short-term and long-term financial security, including your own retirement.
National Transitions of Care Coalition
The last concern most individuals have when they or their loved ones are dealing with a health situation is ensuring effective communication between their doctors, nurses, social workers and other health care providers. However, poor communication between well-intentioned professionals and an expectation that patients themselves will remember and relate critical information that can lead to dangerous and even life-threatening situations. NTOCC has brought together industry leaders who have created resources to help you better understand transitional challenges and empower you as part of the care giving team.
Family Caregiver Alliance
Established in 2001 as a program of Family Caregiver Alliance, the National Center on Caregiving (NCC) works to advance the development of high-quality, cost-effective policies and programs for caregivers in every state in the country. Uniting research, public policy and services, the NCC serves as a central source of information on caregiving and long-term care issues for policy makers, service providers, media, funders and family caregivers throughout the country.
Caregiver Action Network
Resources from the Caregiver Action Network, including a Peer Forum, a Story Sharing platform, the Family Caregiver Tool Box and more.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Women’s Health
FDA Office of Women’s Health understands caring for a loved ones can be rewarding, but challenging. FDA’s Tips for Caregivers website provides tools to help caregivers manage the care of their loved ones. The website provides tips for caregivers of older adults, young children, teens and people with special needs. The website also highlights 7 tips for all caregivers to know. FDA Office of Women’s Health also provides information on women and clinical trials.