November marks the celebration of National Caregivers’ Month. It is a time to recognize, give praise and support to those who dedicate their time to caring for others. You are the heroes the world needs to know of, but get very little (if any) recognition.

But who is a caregiver? This is anyone who steps up to care for a friend, a family member or a neighbor that they feel responsible for. A caregiver may or may not be related to the person. Most caregivers tend to be the spouse, parent, child, friend or neighbor of the person who is in need of care. The most common caregiver is a family member who takes care of their loved ones without any payment. A professional caregiver (also known as a home aide) is one who is hired via an agency to care for a recipient. In either situation, the caregiver can give medical and/or non-medical assistance. Someone may step into the role of a caregiver for a few weeks, a few months and even up to few years.

The person in need of care can range from someone who is chronically ill, disabled or an aging adult. The level of care can range from minimal support to 24/7. This will depend on who and the condition they are in. According to the American Society on Aging, there are more than 65 million people in the US who provide care for a loved one. Some of the tasks of a caregiver can include medical care such as transportation to doctor’s appointments, picking up and making sure all medications are taken at the appropriate time. They can provide assistance with daily living activities such as bathing and going to the bathroom. Other duties can include financial management, house chores and meal preparation. Many in the process of taking care of a loved one, do not realize that they are playing the role of a caregiver. Most of them feel that they are supposed to do it because that is what you do for someone you love- you take care of them! For that very reason, there are very many caregivers who are unpaid, many who are balancing work/full-time job in addition to caring for their loved one.

As a result of the many things involved in being a caregiver, many go through mental and physical fatigue. This being the case, it is a huge undertaking being a caregiver which should not be minimalized. Caring for a person whether its family or a neighbor is not an easy task by any means. It takes heart, compassion, love and most importantly, it takes patience.

I want to bring awareness to the needs of this community as someone who is a caregiver and is a supporter for all their hard work! Happy National Caregivers’ Month!

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