Why I Thanked a Caregiver

My older sister Linda Goyer Lane is part of the “sandwich generation”-people who care for their aging parents while simultaneously supporting children of their own. When my parents began needing 24-hour care about a year and a half ago, Linda stepped up in a big way to help me care for them. She and her two sons (one in high school, one in college) have all made sacrifices as she began traveling to Arizona for a week or two at a time to join in the care of Mom and Dad. I serve as my parents’ primary caregiver. But like so many caregivers who also work, I couldn’t take care of my parents and get my work done without help.

November is National Family Caregivers Month, and on behalf of the Thanks Project, I want to thank my sister for her kindness, her compassion and the countless hours she has spent in loving care of our parents.

Linda is just one of the more than 42 million people across the nation who provide unpaid care to their parents and loved ones. They may not see themselves as such, but they are family caregivers, and they play an extraordinary role in supporting those we love.

As part of an extensive Caregiver Assistance campaign, AARP and the Ad Council have just released a new series of public service advertisements that highlight the many (often exhausting and overwhelming) roles of a caregiver. From cook and accountant to health care and personal care provider, caregivers do it all.

This month, let’s recognize the tremendous amount of work done each day by millions of family caregivers.

  • Visit the new Thanks Project website, where you can send your thanks to a caregiver and have it posted publicly with a photo and other “thanks” from a community of people across the country.
  • Take our new online quiz to see if you or someone you know is a caregiver.
  • Use the hashtag #ThanksProject to spread the spirit of thanks throughout social media.
  • Finally, on a lighter note, watch our new video from comedian Jeff Foxworthy, who says, “You might be a caregiver if…”

My mother passed on just last month, and once again, Linda has been there. She has been a vital source of strength for me and for our father, who has dementia and requires constant attention. I am grateful to Linda for every sacrifice she’s made to give our parents the quality of life and care they deserve.

Are YOU a caregiver? You may be, and not even know it. Be sure to take the AARP caregiver quiz to find out!

This piece also appeared on The Huffington Post and Ad-libbing. 

Amy Goyer is AARP’s Family, Caregiving & Multigenerational Issues expert; she splits her time between Washington, D.C., and Phoenix, Ariz., where she is caring for her father, who lives with her. She is the author of AARP’s Juggling Work and Caregiving. Follow Amy on Twitter @amygoyer and on Facebook.