November is National Family Caregivers Month
The National Pace Association (NPA) has designated November as National Family Caregivers Month. This month, we honor family caregivers across the country who sacrifice their time, energy, and resources to provide essential care for an aging or disabled loved one. The theme this year is “caregiving around the clock”, a recognition of the challenges that family caregivers are confronted with, and how they deal with them both day and night.
The goals of National Family Caregivers Month include the following:
- Celebrate the efforts family caregivers make to ensure that their loved ones are well cared for;
- Raise awareness about the issues that family caregivers face;
- Educate and increase support for those who are family caregivers.
Caregiving is a round-the-clock job and providing care to a loved one greatly impacts the schedule of the family caregiver. Caregivers are handling issues for their loved ones at all hours of the day:
- Mornings: Many family caregivers are raising school-aged children. This can make it challenging to navigate the morning schedule. They need to get the kids up, ready, and out to school, check in on their loved one to ensure that s/he has everything needed for the day, then get to work on time.
- During the Day: The majority of family caregivers work full or part-time jobs while providing care for their loved one. Most often, they have to go to work during the day and at the same time, see to it that the person under their care takes the right medications and is secure at home. This often requires a creative balancing act to ensure that everything is taken care of.
- Evenings: During the evening, the caregiver finally has a chance to relax and breathe a little. If the kids are home, they are usually doing homework, or in the best cases, helping out with their loved on. Evenings are also the time for caregivers to ensure they have a nutritious meal to help maintain energy and stamina.
- Late Nights: Late at night, once the kids and the person under their care are asleep, caregivers can rest, recuperate, and try to get some sleep of their own. Unfortunately, they may not always be able to sleep through the night.
- Overnights: Loved ones who require care can have an emergency any time of the day. If this happens in the middle of the night, caregivers need to be ready to get up and take them to the emergency room. Then if they are lucky, they can get back home in time to catch a little more sleep and repeat this cycle again.
Balancing Work and Family Caregiving
There is no doubt that the life of a family caregiver is grueling. Family caregivers are unsung heroes that do not receive nearly the amount of recognition they deserve for the incredible amount of work they do. This is especially true if the caregiver has a job to go to. Balancing a job with family caregiving is one of the greatest challenges a caregiver has to face. Because of the commitment they have made, there are inevitably times when their loved one needs something while they are at work. Family caregivers handle this balancing act in various ways. This includes:
- Hiring a professional in-home caregiver to check on their loved one while they are at work;
- Asking a family member or friend to help provide care during the day;
- Taking a leave of absence from work or quitting their job altogether.
With the Baby Boomer generation retiring, the number of family caregivers is expected to rise substantially in the future. Employers need to recognize this trend and do everything they can to support employees who are caring for a loved one. Understand that employees will have an increasing need to utilize the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and consider adding other family leave benefits to help employees who are family caregivers.