November is National Family Caregivers Month, and AARP is launching a national campaign to bring awareness to the important role that family caregivers play in the lives of their loved ones. AARP’s Random Acts of Kindness for Caregivers contest began October 15 with the goal of encouraging people to recognize and reward caregivers in small but meaningful ways, many of whom spend 18 hours per week providing care like bathing, dressing, preparing meals, administering medications, driving to doctor visits, or paying bills.
“Caregiving may be one of the greatest expressions of love, and it’s woven into the lives of one in six adults,” said Amy Goyer, AARP family and caregiving expert and author of the new book Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving. “A staggering 40 million family caregivers provide support for loved ones and, as a caregiver myself, I know that the smallest acts of kindness-like holding a door for someone pushing a wheelchair, surprising them with flowers, or even taking a caregiver’s dog for a walk-can be memorable moments in the life of a caregiver.”
Kindness Contest to Help Family Caregivers
More than half of caregivers say they feel overwhelmed by the amount of care their family member needs. Through the Random Acts of Kindness for Caregivers contest, AARP hopes that by encouraging people to show family caregivers small signs of support, it might encourage overwhelmed caregivers, free them up to have more time with loved ones they care for, or even give them personal time to relax and rejuvenate. Those sharing simple acts of kindness are encouraged to submit stories and a photo of their random acts to the contest website at www.aarp.org/caregiverkindness. In March, AARP will select 12 winners who have made a meaningful difference in the lives of family caregivers. The winners will share a $10,000 prize.
24 Hours Inside a Caregiver’s World
The October issue of AARP The Magazine is taking readers inside the hearts and homes of caregivers across the country. Through pictures, videos, and stories, readers will learn about ordinary people caring for spouses, friends, children, and parents. Some of the families featured live with the people they care for, and one caregiver has to board a plane frequently to care for her mom.
Overall, the face of caregiving is changing. While most caregivers are women, 40 percent of caregivers are men. Surprisingly, one in four caregivers is a millennial (between the ages of 18 and 34), and 60 percent of caregivers provide care for an adult while working outside of the home, requiring them to balance caregiving and work responsibilities.
Virtual Family Caregiving Fair
To help caregivers, AARP is hosting a virtual family caregiving fair on Thursday, November 19, from noon – 4 p.m. EST. From the comfort of a home or office, a caregiver can register and join the free fair online at www.aarp.org/familycarefair. During the virtual fair, a caregiver can tour the exhibit hall with over 15 booths showcasing various caregiving resources and programs, enter a “mix and mingle” lounge to connect with experts and other caregivers through online chats, visit a virtual auditorium to view scheduled and on-demand presentations and videos, and explore a library with additional resources for caregivers.
For more information, visit www.aarp.org/caregiving.
This article was adapted from information provided by AARP.