Unpaid caregivers in the U.S.
Did you know? Nearly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. – or 43.5 million people – are providing unpaid care to others. That means we all likely know someone who diligently tends to loved ones or someone in need – whether a neighbor caring for a friend, a family member taking care of an elderly parent, or a volunteer helping in respite or hospice care. Care could include performing nursing and medical tasks, or providing assistance with things like laundry, grocery shopping, housekeeping, etc. On average, caregivers spend 13 days a month providing assistance.
Providing care amidst a pandemic
And while the world geared up to face the new health challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, many chronic patients and their caregivers were already working overtime to stay healthy. Now, patients needed to add to their list the challenges of managing health amidst a global lockdown – in many cases, quarantined away from friends and family, and anxious about the impact of COVID on their already-vulnerable health conditions.
Stressors of the pandemic were reported in high volume – and not just by patients. In fact, six in ten unpaid caregivers reported more stress as a result of providing care during the pandemic, and nearly half cited feeling a lack of companionship.
Celebrating National Caregivers Day
As we head into National Caregivers Day on Feb. 18, and to acknowledge the selflessness of caregivers year round, here are 5 ways to celebrate them, and potentially alleviate some of their stressors:
1. A thoughtful card: Telling a caregiver “thank you” is much appreciated, and writing it down gives you the time to really explain how you feel. The more specific, the better!
2. A clean home: Few things are better than coming home and not having chores. Treat the caregiver in your life to an empty sink, vacuumed floors, and a made bed. These small steps can make a big difference in their hectic day.
3. A day to themselves: After caring all day (or night) for someone else, caregivers can feel too exhausted or burnout to spend energy on themselves. Help them tend to their own needs by stepping in or finding alternate care for the day.
4. A warm meal: Making dinner (or any meal) is just one more “to-do” for an already-busy caregiver. Show them you care by providing a warm, well-balanced meal – and if you can, eat it together. If you’re not a great cook, consider taking care of their grocery shopping – even if it’s just the staples.
5. A fresh bouquet: Flowers can be a bright, fragrant way of saying “I’m grateful.” Whether picked from your garden or picked up from a local store, flowers are welcome token of appreciation.
Resources for caregivers
If you or someone you know could benefit from more information on providing care amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, check out this free webinar from the National Health Council: Corona Virus Preparedness for People with Chronic Conditions: What do Caregivers Need to Know? The webinar provides general advice for caregivers, caregiving for older patients, caregiving for children, and federal policies on caregiving.
For more helpful COVID-19 resources to help patients and their caregivers navigate chronic conditions and access affordable treatment during COVID-19, click here.