National Family Caregivers Month

5 11 2013

November is the National family caregivers month in the United States.

According to the Caregivers Action Network, each year, more and more Americans are caring for a loved one with a chronic condition, disability, or the frailties of old age.  There are as many as 90 million family caregivers in the U.S. today. The current statistic indicates that:

  • Two out of every 5 adults are family caregivers.  39% of all adult Americans are caring for a loved one who is sick or disabled – up from 30% in 2010.
  • Alzheimer’s is driving the numbers up.  More than 15 million family caregivers are providing care to more than 5 million loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • But it’s not just the elderly who need caregiving.  The number of parents caring for children with special needs is increasing, too, due to the rise in cases of many childhood conditions.
  • Wounded veterans require family caregivers, too.  As many as 1 million Americans are caring in their homes for service members from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are suffering from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other wounds and illnesses.
  • And it’s not just women doing the caregiving.  Men are now almost as likely to say they are family caregivers as women are (37% of men; 40% of women). And 36% of younger Americans between ages 18 and 29 are family caregivers as well, including 1 million young people who care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s.
  • Family caregiving is serious work.  Almost half of family caregivers perform complex medical/nursing tasks for their loved ones – such as managing multiple medications, providing wound care, and operating specialized medical equipment.
  • Family caregivers are the backbone of the Nation’s long-term care system. Family caregivers provide $450 billion worth of unpaid care each year.That’s more than total Medicaid funding, and twice as much as homecare and nursing home services combined.

While the  Caregiving awareness in the USA is rising (see Barak Obama’s proclamation below) in most of the world, including Israel, caregivers are transparent to the health, social, economical, and welfare systems; Caregivers have few tools, few support systems and receive minimal, if any, training that could have helped them simplify the caring responsibilities. As a result caregivers experience physical and emotional stress, which adversely impacting their overall health, well-being and quality of life. 

The good news is that there are some new initiatives in Israel that are aimed to increase public awareness to the caregiving phenomenon and its personal, social and national impacts while building an 1) engaged and powerful caregivers community in Israel, 2) promoting policies to support Israeli caregivers and 3) developing programs and services to help caregivers play their role effectively and efficiently. Since I am involved with one of these initiative I will be able to update you on our progress in due course.

Happy Caregivers Month, where-ever you are!

Here is the Presidential Proclamation for the 2013 National Family Caregivers Month:

“Across our country, more than 60 million Americans take up the selfless and unheralded work of delivering care to seniors or people with disabilities or illnesses. The role they play in our healthcare system is one we must recognize and support. During National Family Caregivers Month, we thank these tireless heroes for the long, challenging work they perform behind closed doors and without fanfare every day, and we recommit to ensuring the well-being of their loved ones and of the caregivers themselves.

Under the Affordable Care Act, patients and caregivers can benefit from a new Medicare pilot program that helps beneficiaries negotiate the transition from hospital to home. And through new Medicaid options, States can expand access to home and community-based services. With caregivers already balancing their own needs with those of their loved ones, and in many cases caring for both young children and aging parents, our Nation’s caregivers need and deserve our support. With this in mind, local agencies work to connect individuals with options including adult day care, respite care, training programs, and caregiver support groups — all shaped with the understanding that the generous women and men who take the health of their loved ones into their hands should not suffer from the toll caregiving can take.

There is no one to whom America owes more than our ill and injured service members and veterans, and while many offer kindness and assistance, it is the caregivers who truly sustain our wounded warriors as they work toward rehabilitation or recovery. In 2010, I was proud to sign the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act, which provides the caregivers of our seriously injured post-9/11 veterans with training, counseling, supportive services, and living stipends. Under this law, injured veterans’ family caregivers also receive access to health care.

Just as our loved ones celebrate with us in our moments of triumph, American families strengthen the fabric of our Nation by lifting each other up in the face of life’s greatest challenges. And as Americans put their loved ones before themselves, we must offer our appreciation and flexibility, in our healthcare system, our workplaces, and our communities. This month, as we reflect on the generosity, grace, and strength of family caregivers, we renew our commitment to matching their dedication to the health and wellness of families across our country.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2013 as National Family Caregivers Month. I encourage all Americans to pay tribute to those who provide for the health and well-being of their family members, friends, and neighbors.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth”.


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