No amount of praise and applause can express the true gratitude we feel for front line health care workers. While we sit at home and protect ourselves, these courageous individuals go to do battle with the COVID virus head-on. They risk themselves and their families to help others, and they deserve every bit of our unwavering respect and thanks.

Yet, there is another hero amongst us who deserves the same gratitude. There is another kind of hero who risks just as much from behind the scenes for not even a penny in return.

That unsung hero is the family caregiver.

Family caregivers administer medicine, schedule daily routines, cook, clean, provide emotional support, and more. Family caregivers are unpaid, overworked, and they don’t even mind because they do what they do out of love and genuine human compassion.

As of 2019, the AARP’s Valuing the Invaluable 2019 Update placed the number of family caregivers at approximately 1.59 million individuals in Pennsylvania, with expectations of increase for 2020. This amounts to about 1.33 billion hours of caregiving and a total economic value of $18.2 billion.

However, these 1.59 million family caregivers do not get paid for the hard work they do.

In fact, they often lose money caring for those they love. Most family caregivers spend thousands of their own hard-earned savings to care for their family members. And don’t mistake their willingness to spend this money as a result of rich or wealthy status.

No, many family caregivers actually lose out on the opportunity to earn more money because of the time commitments that caregiving requires. Caring for someone else’s life takes time. And that means less time dedicated to their own ambitions and careers. That means less time to work overtime and less time for side businesses, all of which could be making these caregivers some nice extra money.

Yet, family caregivers don’t look down or despair at these numbers. They keep their spirits high as they take life by the horns and charge forward.

While front line medical professions fight to rid the world of the disease, family caregivers fight to prevent their loved ones from getting it in the first place.

At this point and time, the best the world can do to fight against COVID-19 is to continue to flatten the curve. Rather than allow an influx of patients all at once, the goal is to spread the rate of infection over a larger period of time. This enables doctors and hospitals to administer proper medical attention to each patient, rather than be stretched thin.

Family caregivers are helping to flatten the curve by protecting those they care for. As a result of their care, seniors are able to stay safe at home and out of harm’s reach. Seniors are able to get food, household supplies, nursing care, as well as companionship and emotional support.

Thanks to family caregivers, the unsung heroes of PA, seniors across the state are able to continue living their lives as normal as possible.

Thank you to all the family caregivers out there for keeping our seniors happy and safe!

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