As a member of the Washington State Council on Aging, I am writing this letter because November is National Family Caregivers Month. The theme for 2016 is “Take Care to Give Care.”
Caregiving deserves our attention, as a human and financial concern. Over 900,000 Washington State citizens serve as unpaid family caregivers. According to data from the state Department of Social & Health Services, uncompensated, informal caregiving is estimated to be worth $10.6 billion. Unpaid caregivers lose about $300,000 in salary and benefits in their lifetime; many having minimal financial resources to begin with.
Caregiving is rewarding, but physically and emotionally demanding. The stress of dealing with caregiving responsibilities leads to higher risks of health issues among the nation’s 90 million family caregivers. A significant objective of our care network is to assist family caregivers — something as simple as time to care for oneself in the form of respite activities, makes all the difference. Caregivers are giving their help, and need our help.
More are caring for a loved one with chronic conditions, disabilities or frailties of old age. We must remember that to be strong enough to care for your loved one, you must Take Care to Give Care!
Phillip Lemley, Secretary, Washington State Council on Aging, Richland