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United Way Blog

Family Caregivers Need Care, Too

Have you ever received a call from a loved one who is sick or disabled asking you to buy groceries, pick up medications or provide a ride to a doctor’s appointment? Or perhaps you’ve taken on bigger roles like helping them with daily activities or being on call for emergencies?

If this sounds familiar, you’re among the 40 million Americans who are caring for a family member according to AARP. And while many people think of caregivers as being older adults, 25 percent are millennials like Nia.

For the past six months, Nia, a 36-year-old nonprofit manager from Washington, D.C., has been helping her husband care for his father, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer. In September, Nia’s in-laws moved from Florida to D.C. after doctors told her father-in-law that treatment wouldn’t help his chances.

Nia and her husband, Luis

Since Nia’s in-laws are low-income and rely on social security, they moved in with her and her husband. As newlyweds with a baby on the way, the couple readjusted their lives to pitch in with dad’s medical care. While Nia’s husband handled doctor’s appointments and financial support, she helped her in-laws apply for housing, medical assistance and other social programs.

To better understand what it’s like to walk in the shoes of family caregivers, like Nia and her husband, AARP and United Way created an interactive tool called the “Do You Care Challenge.” The tool helps educate non-caregivers of the challenges facing a typical family caregiver, including a single mother working two jobs, a full-time college student and a married father of two. By raising awareness, the organizations hope to increase public understanding and support for the millions of caregivers out there.

There are also great resources online to help caregivers get the support they need to make their job easier. Here are a few from AARP:

As for Nia’s father-in-law, he is now cancer-free after his new doctors determined the disease was localized and treatable with radiation. As the family rejoiced in the news, they learned they had more to celebrate. After months of searching, Nia’s in-laws moved into a new, affordable housing complex. They’re now happy to be in their own place and are looking forward to welcoming their grandson this summer.

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