CHARLOTTE, N.C. (February 23, 2021)—Winners were announced today for the first-ever Family Caregiver of the Year Awards, which recognizes unpaid family caregivers in the United States who exhibit exceptional diligence and support through the act of caregiving. The awards program was sponsored by Carewell, a leading advocate for caregivers and online supplier of home health products.
The Family Caregiver of the Year Awards program was introduced in January of this year, calling attention to the rising need for caregivers in the United States as the number of adults aged 65+ continues to rise and more older adults opt to age-in-place. This shift has forced families to take on time-intensive, physically demanding, and emotionally taxing caregiving responsibilities, often with little training or preparation.
In the U.S. alone, there are currently more than 50 million family caregivers, which accounts for over $306 billion in unpaid labor—nearly double the combined costs of home health care and nursing home care. The Family Caregiver of the Year Awards aims not only to uplift caregivers and amplify their stories, but to grant monetary rewards to a population that sacrifices their own well-being and finances to provide the best quality of life to their care recipients.
Over 100 nominations were submitted. The first place ($1500), second place ($750), and third place ($250) winners are as follows:
First place: Patti H., a 911 dispatcher, has been a caregiver to her 85-year-old mother for five years. In 2016, Patti began supporting her mother after she suffered physical injuries as a result of a series of falls and began losing her eyesight due to wet macular degeneration. A couple of years later, Patti welcomed her brother into her home and became his primary caregiver after he became bedridden and completely blind. “I am so glad I am able to help my mom and my brother,” said Patti in her submission. “I admit, sometimes it is overwhelming, but I just keep reminding myself that someday they may not be around, and, although I will be very sad, I want to feel I did what I could to help them.”
Second place: John A., who was nominated by his own care recipient, Frances, has been overseeing the care of his partner for more than five years. After just 13 months of dating, Frances underwent emergency surgery, which left her paraplegic. From the beginning, John never left Frances’ side, visiting her every day she was at the hospital, taking it upon himself to ask questions and receive training on each aspect of her care, and leading necessary remodeling to their home to better accommodate Frances’ new lifestyle. “This is truly one of the hardest jobs out there, and all with no expectation of monetary gain for doing it,” explained Frances. “John exemplifies the word caregiver and I would be most grateful if he could be acknowledged for it.”
Third place: Robert W., an HVAC maintenance technician, has been caring for his wife, Anne, for 18 years. After two catastrophic brain bleeds that left Anne cognitively disabled and blind, Robert took on full-time primary caregiving responsibilities, providing everything from personal care and housekeeping to transportation and emotional support. Because of Robert’s physically demanding and public-facing job, he is constantly risking exposure to the coronavirus to make money to support his family, but takes extra precaution to not expose Anne, who is high-risk to the virus. Robert was nominated by his sister-in-law, Christine, who mentioned, “Bob is a very faithful husband and an extraordinary man. He loves Anne, he loves God, and is incredibly worthy of the honor of Family Caregiver of the Year.”
Judging for The Family Caregiver of the Year Awards was conducted by Bianca Padilla and Jonathan Magolnick, co-founders of Carewell; Abby Levy, managing partner and co-founder of Primetime Partners, an early stage venture capital firm focused on transforming the quality of living for older adults; and Connie Chow, founder of DailyCaring, a website dedicated to providing tips and advice to independent caregivers.
“After hearing the countless stories of resilience, sacrifice, and unconditional support our customers provide to their care recipients each day, accompanied by the heightened stress brought on by COVID-19, we were inspired to initiate the Family Caregiver of the Year Awards,” said Padilla. “This program illuminates caregivers’ stories in hopes of providing widespread awareness of this rewarding, yet challenging job, and ultimately improving the caregiving experience.”
Congratulations to this year’s winners of the 2021 Family Caregiver of the Year Awards! In honor of all family caregivers in the U.S., Carewell is offering new customers 5% off their first order.