LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Thanks to family caregivers

Dec 6, 2011

This marked a special time to honor and thank the people who selflessly and compassionately provide for the health and well-being of beloved family members; many of whom are older, vulnerable, or have a disability.

Anyone who’s a caregiver knows firsthand the impact of caregiving on one’s health, work, family, personal relationships and finances. We want caregivers to know that they are not alone and that our agency network notices and appreciates the work they do for our communities. Adult day care, respite care, counseling, and support groups are just a handful of programs that can give back to caregivers in return for all they give on a daily basis.

Families and friends provide the overwhelming majority of care to family members unable to perform tasks on their own; often due to health issues, mobility limitations, and dementia.  In Michigan, one million people provide one billion hours of unpaid care each year to adults with illnesses and those with disabilities, valued at an astonishing $9 billion annually.  Nationwide, there are more than 65 million family caregivers.

Family caregiving often means helping with transportation to appointments, bathing, banking, shopping, food preparation and medical care — tasks that allow loved ones to remain engaged in their communities with independence and dignity. While most caregivers are 50 and older, an increasing number of younger people are playing a caregiving role, helping mostly with the care of grandparents.

— Brigit Lewis, NOCCOA executive director

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