Monday, March 13, 2023
Women’s History Month is a time to recognize the contributions that women make to society. One area where women have made a significant impact is in the role of caregiving. Women have historically taken on the majority of caregiving responsibilities, whether it be for children, elderly adults, or other family members in need of care.
In the United States, women make up 60% of all caregivers. These female caregivers often have to balance their caregiving with work and may face challenges in terms of finding affordable and accessible care for their loved ones. Women who are caregivers to family members with chronic disabilities face additional challenges. The simple fact is that we, as a society have placed the well-being of some of the most important people in our lives in women’s hands.
During Women’s History and Developmental Disability Awareness Month, it is important to recognize the important role that women caregivers play in supporting and advocating for their loved ones with disabilities.
Women Who Tell Our Stories
The theme for 2023 Women’s History Month is Celebrating “Women Who Tell Our Stories.” One such story that came to our attention through the Age Guide podcast is from a female caregiver named Nancy, who takes care of her adult son with disabilities. Nancy has been caring for her son for 35 years and, like many caregivers, she continues to do so even as she and her husband are aging and experiencing their own health challenges. Nancy says, “While being a caregiver to someone with a disability is a rewarding experience, it can also be unrelenting. It’s a life-time commitment.”
She recalls a time when she took her son to the State Special Olympics games, and he experienced several medical emergencies that prevented him from fully participating. She reflected on the event later and like many caregivers, expressed, “I felt a sense of guilt and sadness over that experience. I questioned whether I was doing enough for my son.”
This is a typical challenge for caregivers – feeling guilt even when doing everything possible for their loved one. Nancy says the best solution is, “to connect to other caregivers. We share stories and resources and encourage each other. We are even able to laugh together about things that other people might not understand. You have to have a sense of humor.” Finding caregiver support groups has been critical for Nancy.
During Women’s History Month and all through the year, AgeGuide salutes caregivers like Nancy across our region who give their time and energy every day to keep their loved ones at home and connected to the community. Caregiving is an invisible act of love, and it’s important to not only share these stories, but to support caregivers in our communities.
For information about support groups and other caregiver resources near you, go to the AgeGuide website for more.