ReadersMagnet Review features family caregivers and the important work that they do every day.

There are four types of caregivers: family caregiver, professional caregiver, independent caregiver, and volunteer caregiver. From among these four, the family caregiver is the most common. They are defined as relatives, friends, or neighbors providing medical, emotional, financial, nursing, social support for their sick or disabled loved one at home. Family caregivers offer their time for free to help with the care needs of an ailing or disabled loved one. Some dedicate their full time to the care of their loved ones. In the United States, there are over 60 million Americans currently serving as family caregivers. They are among our unsung heroes. ReadersMagnet takes a look at the important work they do.

Family Caregivers in the United States

Family caregivers are essentially volunteer caregivers as well. They dedicate part or most of their time taking care of a sick, disabled, or elderly family member for free. Although most family caregivers are not necessarily medical personnel or health worker, they are expected to provide nursing care, medical assistance (organizing doctor visits, supervising medications, and other tasks related to the patient’s medical needs.) However, there is still a lot of improvement that needs to be done in order to empower family caregivers in the country. Their job is too essential to be ignored. According to ,

“Family caregivers operate as extensions of health care systems performing complex medical and therapeutic tasks and ensuring care recipient adherence to therapeutic regimens. They operate as home-based “care coordinators” and personal advocates for care recipients. As health care costs and utilization continue to rise, individuals facing physical, mental, or behavioral challenges are increasingly dependent on the ability of a family or other informal caregivers to operate competently as formal health care providers. Yet, despite their important function in our society, caregivers do not receive adequate training, preparation, or ongoing support from health care systems. The APA Office on AIDS has more information about caregiving for aging LGBT adults with HIV. Additional information on HIV and aging is also available.”

The current situation of our family caregivers might be due to a lack of appreciation and recognition for the valuable work that they do. Skills training, orientation, and an institution dedicated to family caregivers should are just some of the things that should be materialized in order to further the standards and capacity of our caregivers. Educating people as to the importance of trained family caregivers is as important as showing our appreciation for the inspiring work that they do.

One Caregivers Journey: An Inspiration

In March 2019, author Eleanor “Ellie” Gaccetta published her memoir One Caregiver’s Journey. In her book, Ellie recounts her experience as a full-time family caregiver to her mom for nine and a half years. Ellie’s mom suffered a hip injury after a bad fall when she was 93 years old. Ellie immediately decided to dedicate her time to taking care of her injured mom. When her mom suffered a minor stroke many months after the injury, Eleanor Gaccetta decided to chronicle her time with her mother. What started as journal entries soon became a regular recording of her experiences, as well as the challenges she encountered being a full-time family caregiver. Although Ellie is not a medical person, the insights, lessons, as well as the daily experiences that she shared in her book are very practical. One Caregiver’s Journey is a valuable read, not only for fellow family caregivers but also for those working as professional caregivers. Ellie’s work as a family caregiver for almost a decade certainly has given her wisdom and strength. Her story will definitely inspire readers to appreciate the work and sacrifices that our caregivers are doing daily.