Not all superheroes wear capes, stop speeding trains or use their x-ray vision to foil the bad guys. Family members who sacrifice time, dreams, money, and even their own health to care for loved ones are the unsung caregivers of the world -- and it’s time to give them some praise.
Family caregivers typically do their work anonymously without reward or recognition from outsiders. It is estimated that one-third of the American adult population is providing care for a family member.
Kathleen Albin of New Jersey exemplifies a typical family caregiver. Ms. Albin spends time at her mother's assisted living facility each day even though she has her own family to care for, and still finds a few hours each day to help her 87-year old mother with everything from laundry to transportation.
“Kathy knows that every day is a gift being with her mother,” said Madeline D. Murray, owner of Spring Lake Arbors. “She cherishes every moment, because she knows tomorrow could be her last.”
She's Not the Only One Going Above and Beyond
There are dozens of Kathleen Albins, or similar stories of ordinary people overcoming their own obstacles to help their family members through illness; a single mother with multiple sclerosis provides care for her young autistic son; a neighbor takes in an elderly blind friend to live with her own family that includes young children; a man who lost his daughter to a car accident and his job to the crumbling economy also found himself caring for his three children and his wife after her unsuccessful brain surgery; and a Wisconsin woman who found out her 22-year old daughter needed a liver transplant shortly after having both of her parents move in with her since they had each suffered strokes.
Just these few examples illustrate the challenges of family caregiving.