The month of November is a time to recognize, support and empower family caregivers. The theme for National Family Caregivers Month 2019 is “Caregiving Around the Clock.” Many caregivers are nurses, teachers and loved ones, but several find themselves drawn to it out of necessity. In military families, that can mean injuries suffered or deteriorating health for retirees.

“I became a caregiver when my mother-in-law became ill,” said Sara Dickey, private caregiver and former military spouse. “Once I started with her, it was just something I fell into naturally. Taking care of the elderly is worth it, because their life is worth my time. I know I am making a difference for someone and helping someone who can no longer help themself”

National Family Caregivers Month was marked to honor the more than 40 million caregivers across the country who support aging parents, ill spouses or other loved ones with disabilities who remain at home. Often the recipient is a spouse with dementia or heart disease who needs a high level of care for 35 hours or more a week, and the caregiver has been providing that help for more than five years. Non-parent child caregivers make up 34 percent of America’s caregiver population.

“Working with children is the most rewarding job I have ever done,” said Elise Papastrat, program leader of the infant class at Tarawa Terrace Child Development Center. “With this age group you can see the growth and development every day. It’s like watching little light bulbs go off. It is so important for children to have involved caregivers. When someone is working with children they must be present, be mindful and be intentional. It is not enough to simply be in the same room, we have to be engaged.”

Family caregivers want their loved ones to have the best care possible; be it at the doctor’s office, at the hospital or at home.

“Caring for adults with disabilities in a group home setting can be tough,” said Sandra Livingston, of Melva’s Family Care. “Several of these individuals need more than their families can do by themselves, so they need us to help them. While the job is sometimes difficult, knowing that we are making a difference in the lives of the individual and their families is worth it. We improve their quality of life.”