The Doctor Is In: Caring for the Caregiver

Content is provided and sponsored by Henry Ford Health System

November is National Family Caregivers Month. It's a time to remind ourselves of the important and often stressful job of the caregiver who cares for, provides all kinds of support to a loved one temporarily or long-term. Sometimes that person is family. Sometimes not.  

There are estimated to be about 2.5 million unpaid family caregivers in Michigan and the number will increase annually as the population heads toward the highest percentage of elderly citizens in history. 


A family caregiver-sometimes called an informal caregiver-is an unpaid individual (for example, a spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor) involved in assisting others with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks.  Formal caregivers are paid care providers providing care in one's home or in a care setting (day care, residential facility, long-term care facility). For the purposes of the present fact sheet, displayed statistics generally refer to caregivers of adult 

The number of caregivers in Michigan and across the country is increasing and will continue to do so. At the same time, caregivers are providing more complex care at home.  

What caregivers can do and what health systems can do to support caregivers and in turn their patients/loved ones 

Remember: You can’t take care of your loved one if you aren’t healthy 
1.   Ask family and friends for help 
2.   Hire help when possible: a handyman, house cleaner, transportation service, accountant 
3.   When you give someone else a responsibility, let them handle it 
4.   Take breaks - necessity not a luxury.  
5.   When away, stay away 
6.   Break goals down into small action steps 
7.   Take care of your own health - check-ups, exercise  
8.   Technology to organize your time, share duties with family members, set reminders, etc. Advance directive. It’s easy and can be done for free and avoids emotional and financial struggles at the time life is ending 
9.   Attend a support group-Henry Ford has 7 caregiver support groups.. 
10  Eat nutritious meals, snacks 

Henry Ford’s CARE, Caregiver Assistance, Resources and Education formed in 2016 when HFHS lobbied for and helped make Michigan became the 25th state to pass the Designated Caregiver Act. It requires hospitals include caregivers in discussions and instructions about at-home care. 

To support caregivers, Henry Ford CARE: 

Offers 7 different caregiver support groups in the community. They’re free, open to anyone and located in Troy, Detroit, Clinton Twp., Plymouth, Wyandotte, West Bloomfield and Jackson. 

Free caregiver consultations by phone, email, or in-person to help guide the caregiver to identify resources available to their unique situation. 


Call 313-874-4838 
Join our Facebook Group, Henry Ford Health System Family Caregivers 
Order a free caregiver binder, a place to organize medical documents  
Two art therapists on staff provide a variety of art sessions at Henry Ford, at community centers, schools, and places of worship. Call to request.