Appreciating Family Caregivers

The theme for National Family Caregivers Month 2010 is “Reach Out for Help”. National Family Caregivers Association encourages family caregivers to reach out for help all the time, but now the message has extra meaning and is particularly important.

This year is the 10th anniversary of the National Family Caregivers Support Program; the very first piece of federal legislation to create a nation-wide program specifically to assist family caregivers. Under the auspices of the Administration on Aging, the program has helped over half a million family caregivers to date. Getting help begins with recognizing that you need it, then asking for it, and accepting it when it is offered. It isn’t necessarily an easy thing to do, but it definitely is a really important one for family caregivers wanting a better quality of life for themselves and their loved ones.

Another reason for family caregivers to reach out for help now more than ever is because we are all swimming in rough economic waters. Many programs that have existed at the state and community level have either been cut back or eliminated all together. Family caregivers need volunteer help from their family, friends, and neighbors to ease the burden. The spirit of volunteerism is alive and well. Family caregivers can take advantage of this by reaching out for help with the day-to-day chores of life – making a meal, taking your car in for service, or just picking up a bottle of milk when needed.

So celebrate National Family Caregivers Month 2010 by helping family caregivers reach out for help and being there to provide it when asked.

In 1994, NFCA began promoting the celebration of family caregivers during the week of Thanksgiving. President Clinton signed the first presidential proclamation in 1997. Every president since then has also issued an annual proclamation showing appreciation for family caregivers. With interest growing in family caregiving issues, National Family Caregivers Week soon grew into National Family Caregivers Month.  Every year, NFCA coordinates National Family Caregivers Month as a time to thank, support, educate and empower family caregivers.

What you may not realize is that each year, an army of volunteers across the country works tirelessly to shine a light on the efforts of family caregivers. Many of NFCA’s volunteers secure proclamations from their governor, mayor, state senators and others, recognizing and appreciating the work that family caregivers do. These leaders and volunteers will be recognized; amplifying caregiver voices, keeping the work of family caregivers in the spotlight, and fulfilling one of NFCA’s core messages: Speak Up for Your Rights!

For more information, tips and techniques for family caregivers visit

You can join the effort: Reach out to your elected officials – call Jane Cortez at 248-358-1186 or email to get the sample proclamation and simple details, and to discuss volunteering for the Caregiver Community Action Network in your area. Together, our voices will ensure that your work as a family caregiver is appreciated.

Read the presidential proclamation for National Family Caregiver Month 2010 signed and issued by President Barack Obama.

This article was written by the National Family Caregivers Association, which educates, supports, empowers and speaks up for the more than 65 million Americans who care for loved ones with a chronic illness or disability or the frailties of old age. NFCA reaches across the boundaries of diagnoses, relationships and life stages to help transform family caregivers' lives by removing barriers to health and well being.

Posted: 11/4/2010 7:07:51 AM by Cathy Whitlock

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