November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to recognize and honor family caregivers across the country. It offers an opportunity to raise awareness of caregiving issues, educate communities, and increase support for caregivers.

Being the primary caregiver for a loved one with ALS can be stressful — not only are you on call 24/7, but you may have additional outside responsibilities, like working a full- or part-time job. Often, caregivers are so busy supporting their loved ones that their own physical or mental health takes second priority.

Our ALS caregivers are heroes who go above and beyond to care for their loved ones. Hear about some of our amazing caregivers from their loved one's perspective.

Mike Krummel. He has had to take over so much around the house. Plus work full time. Since I broke my wrist back in June, he has literally had to do most everything for me. He didn’t hesitate and adapted very quickly to our new routine. I’m slowly gaining a little bit of “independence” back since my wrist is healing, but he’s still right there for me. - Lesley Krummel

"My sister-in-law Danielle Mikunda. When they found out that my brother Russ Mikunda was diagnosed with ALS back in 2013, she was always there for him. I was also there for him in 2014 when he started going down hill. Because of the disease, she quit working and stayed home with him and she took care of him until the 25th of May 2021 when he passed away. He was a good husband to her." - Edward Mikunda

"When my Dad was diagnosed with ALS in 2017, it was a devastating day for us. From that day on, our Mom dedicated herself to be our Dad's full time caregiver. Our Dad was not comfortable with anybody, especially with his personal care. I know that when our Dad started going down hill it was hard for Mom, but she never stopped caring for him. When our Dad requested to go to the Philippines to see the rest of his siblings and family, we knew it would be difficult to fly overseas. Our Mom did not hesitated and still flew our Dad with my brother. It took 24 hours to get him to the Philippines. She continued to take care of my Dad around the clock until my Dad passed away in 2019. He suffered for two years with ALS. Our Mom never left his side until the last second of our Dad's life. We are so lucky and grateful to have her as our Mom." - Geneveih Lata

This month we will be providing tips and resources for our amazing caregiver heroes. In addition, we will be educating others how they can best support and thank the caregiver in their life.

68% of ALS caregivers said they spent more than 30 hours per week providing care to their loved one. Almost ½ of caregivers said that they felt unprepared for changes in caregiving responsibilities as ALS progresses. Our chapter is here to assist you in any way possible. Consider attending our Statewide Resource Group, get reimbursed for respite care, utilize our educational resources or speak with a care services staff member.

Being a caregiver of someone with ALS is a very important role. It usually involves a number of tasks that can be very time consuming, and can require a great deal of effort. Caregivers are often left feeling isolated and can experience depression and burnout. Burnout can be defined as exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation, usually as a result of prolonged stress. Burnout may also be as subtle as simply no longer feeling "connected" to what it is we are doing.

If the caregiver in your life is becoming isolated, have a friend or family member come spend the day with them. They can help out with chores or simply sit and talk. You can even reach out to another ALS caregiver who will understand the journey you and your loved one are going through.

44% of ALS caregivers cited depression as a top concern. They are often spending the majority of their day caring for their loved one, performing chores and running errands. There are ways that you can support the caregiver in your life.

You can offer to cook meals, run errands, perform cleaning duties and ensure they are taking time to care for themselves. We know not everyone is going to accept your offer to help. Instead of asking "how can I help" simply offer to do a specific task or favor for them.

You can also utilize the ALS Care Connection, a private online calendar that can be used to support the entire family – by organizing volunteers to take care of some of those tasks families describe as "falling through the cracks."

Take just a few minutes out of your day to pick our a free ecard Thank You message for your loved one. You can select your design, customize it and add a message, and then send it via email. It's that easy! Let them know you are thinking about them today, and everyday.