November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to recognize and honor family caregivers across the country.
In honor of this month, WomenHeart is helping by:
- Raising awareness of family caregiver issues
- Celebrating the efforts of family caregivers
- Educating family caregivers about self-identification
- Increasing support for family caregivers
A family caregiver is anyone who provides unpaid care for another person, such as a sick child, an aging parent, a husband or wife, a relative, friend or neighbor. Women living with heart disease often receive care from a family caregiver when they are recovering from surgery, receiving treatment after a diagnosis, dealing with chronic needs or aging. At the same time, many women living with heart disease serve as family caregivers for others in their lives with acute or long-term care needs.
Family caregivers manage many aspects of the person’s daily life. This can include helping with daily tasks like bathing, eating or taking medicine as well as arranging appointments and making health and/or financial decisions.
Family caregivers, the majority of whom are women, face many health risks due to the burden and stress of caregiving. These include increased risk of heart disease, particularly when the caregiver has decreased physical activity, low social support and other lifestyle risk factors. Women living with heart disease who serve as caregivers must take special care to tend to their own health so they can stay strong for the person they are supporting.
It is critical that society recognize the contributions of family caregivers and that public policies support this unpaid work.