Celebrated every November, National Family Caregivers Month (NFCM) is a time to recognize and honor family caregivers across the country. It offers an opportunity to raise awareness of caregiving issues, educate communities, and increase support for caregivers.
Families are the primary source of support for older adults and people with disabilities in the U.S.
Many caregivers work and also provide care, experiencing conflicts between competing responsibilities. Research indicates caregiving also takes a significant emotional, physical, and financial toll. With nearly half of all caregivers over age 50, many are vulnerable to a decline in their own health. Studies show that coordinated support services can reduce caregiver depression, anxiety, and stress, and enable them to provide care longer, which avoids or delays the need for costly institutional care.
The emotional, physical, and financial ramifications of being a caregiver are also passed on to children and young adults witnessing these situations, some of which can be traumatic. These traumatic events are known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and include all types of abuse and neglect, as well as:
- parental mental illness
- substance abuse
- domestic violence
ACEs fall into three catergories:
- Adverse childhood experiences
- Adverse community experiences
- Adverse climate experiences
A landmark study in the 1990s found a significant relationship between the number of ACEs a person experienced and a variety of negative outcomes in adulthood, including poor physical and mental health, substance abuse, and risky behaviors. The more ACEs experienced, the greater the risk for these outcomes. By definition, children in the child welfare system have suffered at least one ACE. Recent studies have shown that, in comparison to the general population, these children are far more likely to have experienced at least four ACEs (42 percent vs. 12.5 percent).
The national observance of Family Caregivers Month is spearheaded by Caregiver Action Network (CAN), a nonprofit that provides free education, peer support, and resources to family caregivers. CAN announced the 2020 theme, #CaregivingInCrisis, highlighting new realities that family caregivers and their loved ones face during these uncertain times.
Visit these websites to learn more and find out how you can help:
Caregiver Action Network (CAN)
Adverse Childhood Experiences