I was supporting a friend — just doing my thing and someone told me I was a “C-A-R-E-G-I-V-E-R”. So I was a caregiver this whole time without even realizing it and, on top of that, without realizing the challenges that people deal with when they’re really sick. Now, I’m ready to do something about this … — Marilyn
Marilyn holds a senior position in a southeastern Michigan hospital system. She is an informed health care consumer. Even with her experience, she found herself in uncharted territory when her friend was diagnosed with a serious illness. Together, they were forced to navigate through a maze of care options, settings, and medication with little information or support. Unfortunately, this is a story heard all too often.
The number of people providing “informal caregiving” is growing rapidly as baby boomers age and face the long-term, advanced illnesses that our healthcare system is not equipped to handle. Each day, about 10,000 people turn 65.
November is National Caregivers Month — a time when the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care and its members recognize the acts of those selfless caregivers around the country. We reflect on how we can increase support for and awareness of them and their loved ones.
How can you help?
- Recognize caregivers — even though they are “doing what they always do,” as Marilyn put it. Social Security and the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care recently participated in a celebration of family caregivers hosted by the Alameda County Care Alliance. The event honored 200 people as caregivers. It was quite a celebration!
- Encourage people, like Marilyn, who take action. She is part of a movement led by people living with advanced illnesses, their caregivers, and spiritual leaders in southeastern Michigan. On November 15, ten churches in the Southeast Michigan Alliance to Transform Advanced Care dedicated their Sunday service to caregivers.
- Know your resources and plan ahead. According to NPR’s Your Money and Your Life: Smart Saving Tools, almost half of working Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement. Fortunately, Social Security helps the public plan for the future by providing estimated benefits with the Retirement Estimator. Social Security’s financial support provides peace of mind to millions of Americans, many of whom care for a loved one with an advanced illness.
The Coalition to Transform Advanced Care and Social Security share a vision to protect the most vulnerable individuals and ensure that they receive person-centered care that honors their dignity. The Coalition is leading the national conversation on financial concerns for those with advanced illnesses and their caregivers. In celebration of this month and the beginning of the holiday season, the Coalition asks that you join the movement and find ways to get involved or simply let caregivers know how much you appreciate their efforts.