Celebrate caregivers during National Family Caregivers Month

November is National Family Caregivers Month, a month dedicated to recognizing those who give their time and resources to provide unpaid care for family members and loved ones. First established by a Presidential Proclamation in 1997, the 2015 theme for National Family Caregivers Month is Respite: Care for Caregivers.

At Community for a Healthy Exchange, we know that caregivers play a huge role in helping to manage or make healthcare decisions for a loved one. The biggest hurdle for many caregivers is helping their loved ones access the affordable healthcare they need. Oftentimes caregivers act as intermediaries for those they care for, helping them enroll in an insurance plan, understand their benefits, and access the healthcare they need. This role is more difficult when caregivers encounter problems with the insurance their loved ones purchased from a state healthcare exchange.

A new study by The National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the AARP Public Policy Institute articulates the important role caregivers play in the health and wellness of those who cannot take responsibility for their own care. Below are the top five findings:

  1. Number of Caregivers: More than 30 percent of the entire U.S. population, an estimated 43.5 million adults, provided unpaid care this year alone. The majority of these caregivers provided care for multiple issues affecting the elderly, such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia.

  2. Time: Caregivers dedicate a large amount of time, unpaid, to provide care. Approximately 25 percent of all caregivers spend 40 hours or more providing services a week.

  3. Assistance with Basic Daily Tasks: A large portion of caregivers help with personal care tasks—things such as getting in and out of bed, or navigating stairs—that healthy people complete everyday but those who are elderly, or medically-challenged may find difficult.

  4. Healthcare Intermediary: A caregiver’s responsibilities expand far beyond providing help with daily tasks. Many times caregivers act as an intermediary for their loved one communicating with healthcare providers, agencies, or insurance companies. In fact, 63 percent of all caregivers advocate for their loved ones to receive necessary health coverage or services.

  5. Performing Medical or Nursing Tasks: The study found that many caregivers perform tasks that have traditionally been reserved for medical professionals. These activities include injections, administering medication, or complex care procedures.

Community for a Healthy Exchange is a project of Caregiver Voices United, a 501(c)4 organization allied with Caregiver Action Network; a nonprofit organization that advocates for family caregivers who care for loved ones with chronic conditions, disabilities, disease or frailties of old age. CVU seeks to guide legislators to create policy that benefits family caregivers. Caregiver Action Network provides a number of resources and information on National Family Caregivers Month, including helpful information on this year’s theme: respite, and a list of support services providing rest and relaxation for caregivers.

« Back to Articles