Since 1997, presidents have designated November as National Family Caregivers Month to honor the more than 50 million caregivers across the country who support aging parents, ill spouses, or other older and disabled loved ones who remain at home.
Adults of all ages are among the ranks of family caregivers, according to the 2020 Caregiving in the U.S. study from AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC). More than a third of caregivers are ages 50 to 64, about a quarter are 35 to 49, another quarter are 18 to 34, and 7 percent are 75 or older.
Twenty-nine percent of family caregivers surveyed for the report had been serving in that role for more than five years, up from 24 percent five years earlier.
In 1994, the nonprofit Caregiver Action Network (then known as the National Family Caregivers Association) began promoting the idea of a month to recognize what used to be called “informal” caregivers and raise awareness of the support they provide and the issues they face.
The effort bore fruit three years later when November was designated National Family Caregivers Month by President Bill Clinton.
In a later proclamation, Clinton called family caregivers "everyday heroes” who, by providing billions of dollars’ worth of unpaid care, “dramatically reduce the demands on our nation's health care system and make an extraordinary contribution to the quality of life of their loved ones.”
“These acts of love, commitment and compassion enable their family members to receive the support they need to live a life with dignity,” President Joe Biden said in his 2021 proclamation of the month. “This has been especially true throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, during which Americans of all ages have made substantial sacrifices to keep family members safe and healthy.”
The Caregiver Action Network continues to choose the annual theme for the month; 2022’s is #CaregivingHappens.