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November 7, 2006

Over 50 million Americans are recognized this month during National Family Caregivers Month. The estimated value of the "free" services provided by those caring for loved ones who are frail, chronically ill or disabled is conservatively estimated to be $306 billion annually.

Sponsored each year by the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA), NFC Month focuses on the challenges facing family caregivers. Family caregivers provide a vast array of emotional, financial, nursing, social, homemaking and other services on a daily or on an intermittent basis. While some family caregivers provide 24/7 care for loved ones who require assistance for all daily living activities, others may provide care on a part-time basis. Family caregiving can extend for a few years or a lifetime.

"NFC Month provides an opportunity to advocate for stronger public policies to address family caregiving issues," said Suzanne Mintz, president of the National Family Caregivers Association. "And it is a time to thank, support, educate, and celebrate family caregivers who are literally America's primary long-term care providers. Eighty percent of long-term care is provided by families or friends."

Top 10 Ways to Celebrate National Family Caregivers Month

1. Offer a few hours of respite time to a family caregiver so they can spend time with friends, or simply relax.

2. Send a card of appreciation or a bouquet of flowers to brighten a family caregiver's day.

3. Encourage local businesses to offer a free service for family caregivers through the month of November.

4. Help a family caregiver decorate their home for the holidays or offer to address envelopes for their holiday cards.

5. Offer comic relief! Purchase tickets to a local comedy club, give a family caregiver your favorite funny movie to view, or provide them with a book on tape.

6. Find 12 different photos of the caregiver's family and friends. Have a copy center create a 2006 calendar that the family caregiver can use to keep track of appointments and events.

7. Offer to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for a caregiving family in your community, so they can just relax and enjoy the holiday.

8. Take a few minutes to write a letter. Encourage your faith community to ask for prayers not only for those who are ill, but also those who care for them.

9. Encourage family caregivers to become a part of the National Family Caregiver Story Project found on under the section "Who are Family Caregivers." It's a great place to not only share but read about others in like situations.

10. Help a family caregiver find new educational materials and support through family caregiving web sites or by calling local social service agencies for help.

The National Family Caregiver Association reaches across the boundaries of diagnoses, relationships and life stages to address the common needs and concerns of all family caregivers.

National Family Caregiver Association
National Family Caregiver Association