Family caregivers are hidden heroes

According to a recent American Association for Retired Persons study on caregivers, New York State ranks fourth in the nation with 2,670,000 caregivers. California, Texas, and Florida are first, second and third, respectively. Caregivers are defined as unpaid family members devoted to a loved one.

In 2013, family caregivers in the United States provided 37 billion hours of care. These figures are based on an average of 18 hours of care a week at an average of $12.51 an hour. So, in economic terms, the value of family caregiving is $470 billion.

These numbers are staggering. And, as we all know, they will rise substantially as the first wave of baby boomers become loved ones in need instead of caregivers.

Family caregivers can be considered hidden heroes who often work many hours without recognition or acknowledgment. Without these hidden heroes, many more older adults would require expensive nursing-home care.

Caregivers often find themselves thrown into a situation without warning: 60 percent of caregivers had a full-time or part-time job.

Caregivers must also learn a whole new set of skills to properly care for their loved ones. Just keeping up with doctors’ appointments and medications and keeping your loved one safe and comfortable can be overwhelming. Finding the resources available to you as a caregiver is vitally important.

Most caregivers and their loved ones prefer to stay in their homes and in the community where they have lived for many years. Those individuals in Guilderland, Bethlehem, New Scotland, Berne, and Knox have a wonderful resource available to them through Community Caregivers.

Community Caregivers volunteers are trained to assist in many different ways: provide transportation to and from doctor appointments, provide respite visits, pick up prescriptions, go grocery shopping, and do household chores.

A memory-loss support group meets twice a month for caregivers caring for individuals with dementia or other types of memory loss.

If you are providing care for a loved one, the numbers in the AARP caregivers study show that you are not alone. You should not be embarrassed or afraid to ask for help. Please contact Community Caregivers at 456-2898 so we can help you.

For those who are not caregivers but know of someone who is, November is National Caregivers Month. The best gift you can give is to offer your help to one of our hidden heroes.