Family Caregiving: Where Compassion Meets Complexity
This National Family Caregivers Month, we want to be among the first to acknowledge, celebrate and thank America’s more than 53 million family caregivers for the incredible difference they are making in the lives of friends, family members and neighbors.
If you’re a family caregiver, we mean it when we say you are so important — not simply for your role as a caregiver, but that YOU as a person are incredibly important. We hope that during this special month you can begin placing more care and attention on your own physical and mental well-being. There is only one you — and you are a gift!
Caregiving today is increasingly complex
What does a caregiving life look like? Family caregivers often spend hours every day doing everything from managing medications and performing complex medical tasks to handling bills and finances, coordinating care, helping with medical decisions, meeting social interaction needs, providing transportation and much more.
Compared to even just a few years ago, caregiving is becoming more complex, taxing and stressful. In fact, a recent evaluation conducted by the Family Caregiver Institute at the UC Davis School of Nursing analyzed data in CareNav™, an online platform created by FCA and deployed across California’s 11 Caregiver Resource Centers (CRCs), revealed important insights on the experiences, demographics and service needs of nearly 15,000 California family caregivers of adults with cognitive and physical disabilities. The data showed that:
- 91% of family caregivers provided a high level of care
- 82% assisted with at least one medical/nursing task
- 76% spend more than 40 hours per week caregiving
- 65% care for someone requiring almost constant care
- 71% received no paid help
These findings are also reflected in what we see every day when meeting or talking with our caregiver clients: they are often overwhelmed, stressed and exhausted.
What we also see though — which we’ve seen throughout our more than 40 years serving family caregivers — is the compassion, generosity and kindness that underpins the care they provide. We are always touched and inspired by the love and dedication that drives them to provide the best possible care, even when it feels overwhelming and demanding.
Tailored support is available for caregivers
The above-referenced evaluation revealed the myriad challenges and needs of the thousands of family caregivers that FCA and 10 other CRCs support each year. These insights and data have been critical in helping FCA shape services and support systems that are adapted and responsive to caregivers’ specific needs, challenges and preferences.
For example, we’ve created new articles, webinars, classes and support groups that directly address challenges voiced by caregivers. We’ve also made significant improvements across several of our digital technologies to better serve caregivers — two exciting examples are our recently updated CareNav platform and Services by State online tool.
CareNav™ is a free, secure online tool that provides caregivers with a user-friendly dashboard loaded with personalized caregiving resources. New upgrades include an updated dashboard with a whole new look and feel, and more personalized tools and resources to help caregivers along their caregiving journey. Now, users can:
- Access our full library of videos, fact sheets, infographics and more, anytime, anywhere
- Gather resources relevant to them and easily keep them organized
- Explore a range of caregiving topics like in-home care, finances, legal matters, self-care and more
- Learn about and sign up for caregiving events, classes and webinars hosted by FCA and other California Caregiver Resources Centers
CareNav users who live in the San Francisco Bay Area can also:
- Access their caregiver action plans 24/7
- Track service grant usage
- Download timesheets
Services by State
A recent update to our Services by State tool means that it’s now not only more robust, with more resources and high-quality information than ever before, but has new design elements that let caregivers easily filter and sort their search criteria for highly tailored, actionable results. This tool allows family caregivers anywhere in the U.S. to find state-level resources and information in any state, including detailed information, links and contact info for:
- Counseling and advocacy
- Government benefits
- In-home support services
- Paid family leave
- Legal assistance
- Residential care, including assisted living, nursing homes and hospice
- Senior services, including adult day care
- … and much more
In addition to state-level resources, Services by State also links to National Resources for Family Caregivers and provides relevant “Related Resources” from within FCA’s comprehensive resources library. Services by State is mobile friendly and will soon be integrated on FCA’s CareNav dashboard for added convenience. It is updated regularly by our caregiver resources specialists, so family caregivers always have the most current information and links at their fingertips.
We feel privileged every day to be able to help improve family caregivers’ lives — whether that’s through robust, user-friendly online tools, support calls by our family consultants, or the policy work we do to advocate for and enact positive change for caregivers. This month, we invite you to join us in acknowledging, thanking and helping family caregivers in your life — even if that’s you!