National Family Caregivers Month
By Steve Suroviec, President and CEO
Celebrated every November, National Family Caregivers Month (NFCM) is a time to recognize and honor family caregivers across the country. It offers an opportunity to raise awareness of caregiving issues, educate communities, and increase support for caregivers.
In September 2022, the federal Administration on Community Living released 2022 National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers: Actions for States, Communities and Others
. The plan proposes five major goals and multiple recommendations for each goal:
- Goal 1: Achieving greater awareness of and outreach to family caregivers
- Goal 2: Advancing partnerships and engagement with family caregivers
- Goal 3: Strengthening services and supports for family caregivers
- Goal 4: Improving financial and workplace security for family caregivers
- Goal 5: Conducting more research and evidence-based practices to support family caregivers
More attention is finally being paid to family caregivers and the support they need to continue to care for their family members. People may be caregivers for a few years, or it could last multiple decades. Family caregivers may experience stress, exhaustion and social isolation. Many tend to put off dealing with their own medical issues while they are caring for others. Family caregivers often struggle to balance caregiving responsibilities with employment. Many miss work, reduce their hours, take a leave of absence or leave the workforce altogether. Many spend down their savings and stop contributing to retirement accounts.
The majority of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), whether they get publicly-funded supports or not, live with family members throughout their lives. Each state offers different home and community based supports and report variations in the proportion of people with IDD who live with their families. However, in each state, due to the Direct Support Professional shortage, low rates paid by state agencies, and the waiting lists for services, families are the safety net for people with IDD.
So, if you know a family caregiver – either a parent of a child or adult with a disability, a spouse of someone diagnosed with dementia, a parent or sibling of a veteran who has returned home with a disability, a grandparent caring for a grandchild due to a parent being in prison, or an adolescent caring for a single parent diagnosed with a serious medical condition - consider any support you could offer the family.
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