National Family Caregivers Month: Date, Ideas & Activities

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Family caregivers step up to be there for their loved ones, and this is something worth celebrating and honoring. National Family Caregivers Month is the time of year when we acknowledge those who take care of their loved ones in their time of need. 

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While we should always take the time to honor caregivers, National Family Caregivers Month is a special chance to shine a light on these special carers. This month is for anyone who devotes time and effort to providing care for a relative or other close friend. 

These are the unspoken heroes who act out of the goodness of their hearts. In this guide, we’ll explore everything about National Family Caregivers Month includes the date, ways to celebrate, and special activities. 

When is National Family Caregivers Month?

National Family Caregivers Month (NFC) is recognized every week in November. This celebration began in 1997 with the signing of a Presidential Proclamation by President Clinton. Ever since then, each November is dedicated to family caregivers. 

Each year, the Caregiver Action Network chooses a theme for NFC. The theme in 2019 was to #BeCareCurious. This was an initiative to encourage caregivers to ask questions and share in the care decisions that affect their loved one’s health and wellness. Check in with Caregiver Action Network to see the themes as they’re announced. 

ยป MORE: What do you do when a loved one dies? Get your survivor's checklist.

 

What is National Family Caregivers Month?

NFC is an opportunity to highlight the work that family caregivers do for their loved ones. Family caregivers come in all shapes and sizes, and there is no one-size-fits-all definition. This term refers to those who support aging parents, partners who care for ill spouses, or anyone who assists with a loved one’s disability or health problems. 

Family caregivers are the everyday, overlooked heroes. They’re found in all communities across the United States, and they don’t always get the recognition they deserve. Their efforts towards their loved one’s care save the U.S. billions of dollars in caregiving services while also increasing the quality of life for their loved ones. 

History of National Caregivers Month

As mentioned before, National Caregivers Month began in 1994. It started as just a week-long way to honor those who care for family members, led by the National Family Caregiver Association. It was first signed by President Clinton, and every president after followed suit. 

This week-long event was changed to a monthly event to celebrate the invaluable contributions caregivers continue to make for their families. It falls in November, which is also the month for Alzheimer’s awareness. This was not an accident. These two months overlap to show the impact these family caregivers make for the ill and elderly. 

How it’s celebrated

While we can all agree that family caregivers are selfless, giving people, they need to be taken care of too. A large percentage of family caregivers report feeling isolated or like they’re not able to speak up about their own problems. 

According to a study by AARP, 1 in 10 family caregivers claimed they had nobody to talk to about their own private matters. In addition, 1 in 5 had nobody to ask for help. These statistics really are startling, and this is why NFC is such an important month. 

Because of these startling statistics, NCP is a month for saying thanks and giving back to these family caregivers. It’s an opportunity to let them know a helping hand is available and that there are resources designed for them. It’s a time for them to get the recognition they’ve always deserved. 

Activity Ideas for National Family Caregivers Month

If you’re looking for a way to honor family caregivers this November, there are a lot of activities to choose from. Look into community events to join a local celebration, or start your own caregiver event for your friends and family. 

Host a get-together

One of the best ways to recognize caregivers is simply by honoring them. All caregivers know the work they do is important, but they rarely hear a “thank you.” Though it might sound simple, these words mean the world to them. Hosting a community or family get-together in their honor is the perfect activity. 

Promote caregiver legislation

There’s a lot of politics that goes into family caregiving. Local policies, programs, and funds often make a huge impact in the lives of family caregivers and the loved ones they care for. Attending a local town hall meeting or talking to your representative could help you raise awareness for this cause. 

Share on social media

Similarly, raise awareness within your own network on social media. While simple, a lot of people simply aren’t aware of the role family caregivers play in our society. By speaking out and sharing resources, you educate others about the importance of saying thank you. 

Send a card to a caregiver

If there’s a caregiver you know in your life, why not send a card? While a verbal “thank you” is always welcome, a thank you card is a chance to reflect even more on their impact. Let them know what they mean to you. 

Read our guide on the best gift ideas for caregivers for more gift and card inspiration.

Share your story

Finally, consider sharing your own story. If you’re a caregiver or you are under the care of a relative, share your own narrative. You can write your story in a journal, share it with a loved one, or even publish it online.

Taking time to think about the role of caregivers in your own life or your own actions is very rewarding. 

National Family Caregivers Month Gift Ideas

Do you want to gift something special and meaningful for a caregiver in your life? A gift is a wonderful way to say thank you, especially if you put a lot of thought into it. 

A book

Books make wonderful gifts, and there are a number of books designed specifically for caregivers. One of these caregiver books or healthcare books helps your loved one feel a little less alone. 

Pampering

Do something selfless for those who act for others. Offer fun and pampering in the form of a spa day, theater tickets, wine night, or another way to kick back and relax. 

Food delivery

Another great gift is food delivery or a food delivery gift card. A home-cooked meal is always welcome, and caregivers don’t always have the time to extensively shop or prepare meals.

A food gift card gives them their favorite meals without the stress of shopping or cooking. 

Coffee gift card

Caregivers get tired too! Though they might seem unstoppable, they need a morning (or afternoon) pick-me-up just like everyone else. A coffee gift card treats them to their favorite latte or specialty caffeine drink. 

Flowers

Flowers are always a great gift. A colorful, vibrant bloom lets them know they’re in your thoughts. Pair your flowers with a thoughtful card and words of encouragement for a personal touch. 

Your time

Finally, the best gift is often just your time. Taking over in their caregiver duties for a few hours or even a weekend often makes all the difference. 

Though they likely love their role and their loved one, having some time for oneself is necessary to unwind and avoid burnout. Even if you just cook dinner or take over some chores, this is a great way to show you care. 

Give Back to Those Who Always Give

Family caregivers are the silent superheroes of society. They’re always there for those who need it most, and they ask for nothing in return. We can’t thank them enough, but we can start with National Family Caregiver Month. Now that you know the history and significance of this time of year, you’re ready to make a difference in your own family or community. 

Finding the right gifts for nurses or family caregivers isn’t always easy. People who care for others seem to want for little. That being said, one gift that everyone should give their family is the gift of end-of-life planning

When you start your own end-of-life planning process, you take the burden out of these difficult decisions. While we all need some help from time to time, this is something you can do for your loved ones. 

If you want to learn more about special days that celebrate advance care planning, read our guide on Long-Term Care Planning Month.

Sources

  1. “Home Alone Revisited: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Care.” AARP, April 2019. AARP.org
  2. “National Family Caregivers Month.” Caregiver Action Network. CargiverAction.org

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