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Family Caregivers: The Unsung Heroes

In November, we officially recognize family caregivers, honoring the 60 million+ individuals across this country who informally provide special care for loved ones. With an official proclamation in 2014, then President Barack Obama proclaimed November as Family Caregiver Month. He said that “we salute the people who play difficult and exhausting roles, and we recommit to lifting up these Americans as they care for their loved ones while protecting their dignity and individuality.”

According to the American Association for Retired People (AARP), close to 20% of Americans provide unpaid assistance to another adult. Other findings:

  • 34 million Americans had provided care to an adult over age 50 within the past year

  • 23% of these caregivers say their responsibilities have made their own health worse

  • 7% of caregivers are over age 75 themselves and are often taking care of a similarly aged spouse with a long-term illness or disease like dementia

  • 61% of the family caregivers are still working

Caregiver, Heal Thyself?

Family caregivers juggle many balls. Many of these individuals work paid jobs outside the house and still must attempt to meet the needs of the family or friends within their care. Such incredible responsibilities can obviously take their toll on an individual’s physical health and mental well-being.

Some tips for family caregivers include:

  • Try to live guilt-free. There often are no right or wrong decisions. Just decisions.

  • Caregivers are truly “hidden heroes” so take pride in what you do to help others.

  • Get moving! Physical activities like walking help reduce stress.

  • Take care of yourself. Don’t skimp or delay your own doctor visits.

  • Research community resources.

  • Take naps. If possible. When your loved one rests, you should also.

Taking Its Toll

Families are the backbone of long-term care. But sometimes family members simply can’t take on the incredible responsibility required. Kim P. and her family’s situation provides a good example. Kim was helping take care of her sister-in-law, Kathy, once a vibrant homemaker and now, with progressive dementia, in need of round-the-clock care. Kathy’s husband, Rob, asked Kim to help out, since he wanted to continue his career outside the house and make sure Kathy was receiving help.

Kim was happy to assist, but when her own health deteriorated and she was stretched in too many directions with other family responsibilities, it was time to seek outside assistance. The family reached out to Reliance Home Health Care, Inc. You can read the read the full story here.

Reliance supports our unsung everyday caregiving heroes by offering flexible care that can be obtained on an hourly, daily, weekly, or overnight basis. The Blue Bell, PA company provides service to the greater Philadelphia area and is an Approved Provider by Montgomery County Aging and Adult Services. For more information call 610-896-6030 or email

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