Family Caregivers: Unsung Heroes
Family caregivers have existed for as long as families have existed, caring for disabled, ill, and aging relatives.
But their burden and sacrifice has only been recognized formally since 1997. Since then, the Presidents of the United States have honored our country’s family caregivers by way of the National Family Caregivers Month Presidential Proclamation published every November.
The many forms of family caregivers
Grown children commonly shoulder the burden of caring for aging parents as they develop chronic illness and need support. But that’s not always the case.
Reasons for care
People can require care for any number of reasons, from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia to developmental disabilities, cancer, stroke, mental health concerns, degenerative conditions, and more.
And it’s not always grown children providing care. Parents may be lifelong caregivers for their children. A grown sibling may step in to care for another. Grandchildren may selflessly care for a grandparent. And, in many cases, a spouse becomes a caregiver for their partner — the caregiving relationship that comes with the highest burden.
Most family caregivers are working women
The burden family caregivers face is enormous. And the number of people providing this kind of care is also staggering. In fact, 90% of long-term care in the U.S. is unpaid care provided by a family member. That percentage represents more than 50 million Americans in the position of being a family caregiver. Most of whom a) are women and b) volunteer their time as a caregiver while still holding a part- or full-time job.
Whether a person is fully responsible for a family member’s long-term care, or they help part-time in the course of their other responsibilities, all caregiving requires, well, giving. It takes patience and sacrifice to help manage another person’s health and well-being. And while each caregiver’s role is unique, there are so many tasks that fall into the category of long-term care:
- Care coordination
- Making appointments
- Speaking to doctors
- Ordering medications
- Handling insurance
- Personal and self-care
- Emotional support
- Money management
Family caregiver challenges
The challenges of being a caregiver range from physical to financial to mental and emotional. Watching a loved one lose ability over time is emotionally taxing. Helping a loved one financially, while perhaps losing hours at work to care for them is stressful. Stretching the hours in the day to parent, take care of household needs and still show up for an aging relative can be exhausting and isolating.
Managing and administering medications is a common part of a caregiver’s responsibilities. Many patients with caregivers need several prescriptions, and handling the ins and outs of reviewing, filling, organizing and administering each can be daunting for caregivers. And that’s a burden we at Sona hope to help with.
Helping family caregivers with the Access program
As a community-based pharmacy, Sona is committed to supporting the caregivers in our community. If you’re a caregiver, we encourage you to take advantage of Sona Access, our medication support program. Medication support from our team helps relieve some of the burdens you face in three meaningful ways:
- We gather all the relevant medication to create the fullest possible picture of the patient’s pharmaceutical needs. We’ll provide you with up-to-date lists, helping make doctor’s visits and avoiding drug interactions easier.
- Our team organizes the patient’s medication in whatever way works best for you both. The goal is to do everything we can to support adherence and make medication administration simpler for you, removing stress around dosing. We can even provide free home delivery, removing the need for regular trips to the pharmacy.
- We want to make sure you don’t bear the burden of medication management alone. We’re here for you. Our team will providing regular check-ins and updates to support your questions and concerns and to make sure you, as a caregiver, are doing ok. Ultimately, we want to ease your burden as a caregiver however we can.
If you’re a caregiver, thank you. Thank you for your hard work and your compassion. You make a difference. We’d love to help make a difference for you.
More resources for family caregivers
If you’re interested in additional caregiver resources, we’ve compiled a list of helpful links below:
Learn more about Sona Access for caregivers and how to enroll.
Honor an Alzheimer’s caregiver with a donation or public tribute.
Learn about your options with respite care.
Connect to resources for eldercare with The Eldercare Locator, a resource of the U.S. Administration on Aging.
Find advice and support at the Caregiver Action Network, which hosts a peer forum for caregivers.
Explore more resources, including disease-specific caregiving resources at caregiving.org.