Sunset Florida 2017“I am what I am because of who we all are.” Ubuntu, a South African philosophy, accepts that we are all part of something larger. It’s time to embrace the challenge of helping individuals, families and caregivers whose lives are impacted by a chronic health condition get access to the resources they need. Now. Yesterday.

Disabling short-and long-term conditions cross all social and economic demographics. Every individual and family deserves support and access to resources that help ease the burden of living with or caring for someone with a disabling medical diagnosis.

We have to step up our efforts to figure out how we can assist people and caregiving families with getting help when they are faced with the challenges created by a loved one’s declining health status.

Many of our communities, including where I live, do not have the resources in place to connect individuals and families to a network of experts and professionals who will help them maintain independence and dignity as they address the medical, economic, social and emotional challenges of managing someone’s health.

Alan Jette, PT, PhD argues that it is crucial that caregivers and caregiving families be given information and support to fulfill their roles and responsibilities while also maintaining their own health, financial security and well-being.

He also highlights that “while we must acknowledge that there is the potential for economic and emotional hardship on family caregivers, there are many positive outcomes, too. These include enhanced confidence on the part of the caregiver, lessons in how to deal with difficult situations, and closer personal relationships with the care recipient.”

Jette enlightened me with the alarming fact that one in 7 Americans has a disability when I read his editorial in the February 2017 Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association. That knowledge, combined with the fact that  20% of the population (72.8 million people) in the U.S. will be 65 years of age or older in 2030, means that the number of people living with a disability will continue to grow.

The scenario that lies ahead is not all bad. If we commit to the challenge, sense of satisfaction and purpose associated with helping individuals and caregivers find solutions to their difficult situations, we all benefit. Interconnectedness. Ubuntu. It’s a good thing.