To all the caregivers out there, thank you. Thank you for what you give every day to care for parents, grandparents, veterans, spouses and children. Thank you for the care you provide to individuals with disabilities, loved ones recovering from surgeries and those living with serious mental health conditions and brain disorders. November is National Family Caregivers Month, and we want you to know, we see you, and we are here for you.
Caregiving is honorable. For many, it is an act of compassion and love. Sometimes, it is a sense of duty, of doing what needs to be done when no one else is there to do it. In the United States, we rely heavily on unpaid caregivers to assist family members, partners, friends and neighbors with daily living and medical care. Researchers estimate the annual value of family caregiving is $522 billion, with the cost of replacing it with paid care ranging from $221-$642 billion.
Every day caregivers face impossible choices. “Even though I told no one about my home life, it permeated every decision I made,” Kristina Brown, caregiver for her mother with multiple sclerosis, shared in a recent Washington Post article. “From my own experience, I can say that I routinely missed meals and sleep during my adolescence, and that I strove to hide my exhaustion, weight loss and social isolation from the people around me.”
Workforce Strategy 2019 keynote and caregiving crusader, Alexandra Drane, explained caregivers are not always who we may expect. According to data provided by Alex’s ARCHANGELS team, our youngest caregivers (21- 40) are hit the hardest of all age groups by stress, anxiety, and depression, with PHQ9 ad GAD-7 scores that are 2x those of older caregivers (61+). For male caregivers, the impact of life going wrong is dramatic—when work, relationships, or finances go wrong on top of caregiving, their risk of anxiety increases by 4.5x and depression by 7.4x. And to make matters worse, only 14% of men find support through work colleagues—further evidence of the need to normalize this conversation for all caregivers.
During her keynote, Alex went on to describe what every one of us can do to care for caregivers. Watch this video to be introduced to be her powerful Look. Love. Lift. call to action.
As our caregiving crisis escalates, leading employers are embracing flexible, innovative solutions to help employees manage their work and caregiving responsibilities. Companies show caregivers they care by offering benefits to support their physical, emotional and financial health, giving them the gift of time through a comprehensive leave benefits and flexible work arrangements, and creating a safe, positive work environment that’s free of the stigma and shame many caregivers experience.