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November is National Family Caregivers Month

Date: 11/02/21

Every year, nearly 15 million Americans take on one of the hardest jobs around, caring for friends and relatives with physical and mental illnesses. They provide hours of help—daily tasks like bathing, cooking, and shopping; communicating with medical professionals, managing medications, coordinating schedules, giving emotional support, and more. Caregivers often get little rest, experience stress, and have their own health challenges—it can be exhausting! Caregiving can be a labor of love, and sometimes a job of necessity.

Who are our Caregivers?

There is no "typical" caregiver. Caregivers are young and old, male and female, LGBTQ and straight. They live in cities, suburbs, and rural communities, and are members of every race. But a recent AARP/National Alliance for Caregiving study tells us that some things are common throughout the country:

  • Female. About 2/3 of caregivers are women
  • Middle aged. Most family caregivers begin caring for others around age 50
  • Working. 61% work outside the home, either part- or full-time, in addition to caregiving. Many say their caregiving has impacted their work—they may have come in late, left early, or taken time off.
  • Caring for an older relative. 89% of caregivers care for a relative; more than 75% care for someone older than they are
  • Providing care for more than one person. 24% of caregivers care for two or more people.

Self-Care for Caregivers

Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do as a caregiver. Remember, if you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else! Here are some tips to help you manage self-care:

  • Ask for help. Many people want to help but aren't sure how. Try making a list of ways others can help so you have concrete ideas when someone asks. For example, someone might pick up groceries or sit with the person while you do errands. It's ok to let others help!
  • Maintain healthy habits. Eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep (7-9 hours), and exercising can improve your physical and mental health. Keeping up with your healthy habits will help you stay well, make you feel good, and improve your ability to deal with stress.
  • Be sure to recharge. Take breaks each day, spend time with your friends, and keep up with your hobbies and interests. Setting time aside can be challenging, but taking a few minutes a day can help boost your mental health and better deal with stress.  
  • Join a caregiver's support group. Meeting other caregivers (online or in-person) may give you a chance to exchange stories and ideas.
  • See your doctor regularly. Let your health care provider know that you're a caregiver, and mention if you have symptoms of depression or sickness.   
  • Build your skills. Search for classes on how to care for someone with an injury or illness. To find these classes try searching online, ask your doctor, or contact your local Area Agency on Aging at

Written by Cindy Maxim

SOURCES: AARP, National Alliance for Caregiving

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Please always follow your healthcare provider's instructions. Programs and services are subject to change. Managed Health Network, LLC (MHN) is a subsidiary of Health Net, LLC. The MHN companies include Managed Health Network and MHN Services, LLC. Health Net and Managed Health Network are registered service marks of Health Net, LLC or its affiliates. All rights reserved.