At any time during the year, more than 1,270,000 Missourians perform a great labor of love: caring for aging parents, spouses, and other loved ones so they can remain in their homes. These family caregivers are sometimes on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week – and often they can’t even take a break. But they wouldn’t have it any other way.
That’s why we honor these unsung heroes for their labor of love during November: National Family Caregivers Month
It’s a fact: the vast majority of older Missourians want to live independently, at home, as they age. And, family caregivers are the ones who provide the bulk of assistance to make this goal a reality for many. They help with:
- bathing and dressing
- meal preparation
- managing finances
- grocery shopping, and much more.
Today, the average family caregiver is a 49-year-old female, who takes care of a 77-year-old woman – usually her mother. She provides 20 hours a week of assistance to her loved one, although she may be on call around-the-clock. She also works. In total, 828 million hours of care are provided by Missourians each year.
In Missouri, family caregivers provide unpaid care valued at an estimated$8.9 billion annually. For our state, their contribution runs even deeper. By helping their older loved ones remain at home – and out of costly nursing homes, usually paid for by Medicaid – family caregivers are, in essence, saving the state money
But, family caregivers could use some support – so they have the strength and energy to carry on: more support, help at home, workplace protections, training and more. That’s why AARP is fighting for commonsense solutions, like caregiver employee leave, “respite care” so caregivers can take a hard-earned break¸ giving nurses more authority to heal, financial help for caregivers, making sure caregivers have the right resources in the community – like home care and adult day care.
Keep in mind: If you’re not a caregiver now, you were one in the past, or you will likely be one in the future. This month, let’s all take a moment to recognize our fellow family caregivers – share your story at aarp.org/iheartcaregivers .