Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Guest Post: Family Caregivers Month November 2014 by Laura Valentino

Every November, we recognize some important heroes in our country.  These heroes are family caregivers. Right now, two out of every five adults in America provide care for a loved one (Caregiver Action Network, 2013). This is an increase of 11% since 2010 (Caregiver Action Network, 2013). Millions of Americans provide unpaid care for a loved one, with a savings of $450 billion a year. This is more than either Wal-Mart sales or Medicaid spending (Caregiver Action Network, 2013).

Facts about family caregivers:

  • Family caregivers provide care to loved ones of all ages. Sometimes, caregivers are part of the so-called “sandwich generation” that take care of both a sick or aged parent and a child.

  • Although the majority of caregivers are female, the number of male caregivers is increasing.

  • One million Americans are caring for wounded veteran loved ones suffering from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and other wounds and illnesses.

  • It’s serious work! It’s exhausting and time-consuming and caregivers often neglect their own health and interests for the sake of caregiving.  

(Caregiver Action Network, 2013)

What can you do to celebrate family caregivers?

  • If you know a family caregiver, offer to provide respite care, even if only for an hour. Everybody needs a break now and then.

  • Listen to them! Let them communication both the joys and frustrations that family caregiving brings.

  • Thank a family caregiver for their service to their loved one and to the community.

  • Consider joining or starting a volunteer effort to support and/or honor caregivers.

Why should health educators be concerned about caregiver health?

  • The number of family caregivers will continue to increase as people live longer and require more care and the desire to live at home.

  • There is simply not enough capacity for care to be provided by non-family caregivers. There are not enough long-term care facilities nor trained employees for these facilities (Hoban, 2013).

  • Depression and anxiety among family caregivers is a growing concern (Family Caregiver Alliance, 2014).

  • Respite care is under-utilized.

  • Health disparities in caregiver health are under-studied.

It is time to start honoring and supporting our family caregivers! 


Caregiver Action Network. (2013). Family caregivers: Now more than ever. Retrieved from

Family Caregiver Alliance. (2014). Depression and caregiving. Retrieved from

Hoban, S. (2013). LTC outlook: Too many seniors not enough caregivers. Retried from


Laura Valentino is a second year doctoral student. She is the 2014-2015
recipient of the Janice C. Williams Health Education Teaching Fellowship. She currently
teaches HS 4121, Internship Preparation. She is the President-Elect of TSOPHE and
actively involved in APHA, SOPHE, and ASA as well as Pioneer Power Speakers
(Toastmasters International). She is always looking for research collaboration
opportunities. Feel free to email her at

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