13 of State’s 27 U.S. Representatives Co-Sponsor RAISE Family Caregivers Act; November is National Family Caregivers Month

ALBANY, N.Y. – Over a dozen of New York’s U.S. House members have thrown their backing behind creation of a strategy to support the nearly 2.6 million New Yorkers – and more than 40 million Americans – whose unpaid labor of love is becoming increasingly needed as society ages: family caregivers.

Thirteen of the state’s 27 members in the House of Representatives are co-sponsoring the bipartisan Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act, including original cosponsor Elise Stefanik (NY-21).

The RAISE Family Caregivers Act (S. 1028/H.R. 3759) calls for development of a strategy to support family caregivers and in part make it easier to coordinate care for a loved one, including helping family caregivers find information, referrals and resources, as well as improving respite options so family caregivers can recharge.

New York House co-sponsors in addition to Rep. Stefanik of New York’s North Country include, from Long Island Lee Zeldin (1st District) and Peter King (2nd); from New York City Grace Meng (6th), Hakeem Jeffries (8th), Yvette Clarke (9th), Dan Donovan (11th), Carolyn Maloney (12th) and Eliot Engel (16th); from the Hudson Valley Sean Patrick Maloney (18th); from the Capital Region Paul Tonko (20th); from Central New York John Katko (24th); and from Western New York Brian Higgins (26th).

The bill has already passed the United States Senate with the support of New York’s two U.S. Senators, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. November is National Family Caregivers Month.

“AARP New York applauds our congressional co-sponsors of the RAISE Family Caregivers Act for showing vision in recognizing the invaluable contributions family caregivers make – and for showing leadership in moving to ensure their increasingly important work is adequately supported,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel.

“Not only do family caregivers ensure their loved ones are well cared-for in their homes and communities for as long as possible, their unpaid labor of love helps provide tremendous relief to the taxpayers who could otherwise have to foot the expensive bill for institutional care,” Finkel added. “The need for family caregivers’ services will only increase, and it is high time this nation supports our greatest support system – family caregivers.”

Family caregivers assist parents, spouses, children and adults with disabilities, and other loved ones with eating, bathing, dressing, transportation, managing finances, medical tasks including wound care and managing multiple, complex medications, and more. Many do this while working full time and raising families, and many pay for home modifications, transportation, home care aides and other services to help their loved ones.

The unpaid care family caregivers provide – 2.4 billion hours a year across New York and 37 billion hours nationally valued at a respective $31.3 billion and $470 billion annually—helps delay or prevent more costly care and unnecessary hospitalizations, saving taxpayer dollars.

But as society ages, the number of family caregivers is shrinking in comparison to the number of older loved ones in need of care. In 2010, there were more than seven potential family caregivers age 45-64 for every person in the high-risk years of 80 or over, but by 2030, there will be only four, and by 2050, just three. In New York, those numbers are projected to shrink from 6.6 potential caregivers in 2010 to 4.8 by 2030 and 3.5 by 2050.

That’s why creating a strategy to support the backbone of the state’s and nation’s care system – family caregivers – is crucial.

The physical, emotional and financial strain of caregiving can lead to depression and poorer physical health for caregivers. Some leave their jobs – and lose, on average, over $300,000 in wages and benefits over their lifetimes.

Here is what New York’s co-sponsors said about the RAISE Family Caregivers Act:

Representative Elise Stefanik (21st District), an original co-sponsor: “In my district and in communities across our nation, family caregivers devote their lives to giving their loved ones the best possible healthcare. Family Caregivers raise the standards of living for seniors and those who are suffering, and we owe them our gratitude. I’m proud to support this important, bipartisan legislation that will help better support our nation’s family caregivers and I thank the AARP for their work on this issue.”

Representative Lee Zeldin (1st District): “Hard working New York families deserve all the support they can get when caring for family members in need. That is why I am proud to cosponsor the RAISE Family Caregivers Act, which provides families with the resources needed to make the best possible decision for their loved ones.”

Representative Peter King (2nd District): “We can never repay the debt we owe those loved ones who suspend their lives and commit to caring for ailing family members. The physical, emotional, and financial strain the caregivers experience is often times unending and punishing. This legislation is critical for creating a strategy to help those family caregivers who sacrifice so much to help loved ones- an experience familiar to so many people in my district and the country.”

Representative Grace Meng (6th District): “Family caregivers play an essential role in providing care to loved ones – particularly older Americans – and this bill would go a long way towards creating a much-needed strategy to assist them. I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation and I stand with AARP New York in calling for its passage in the House. It is critical that we support the work and sacrifice of the approximately 40 million Americans who care for family members. I look forward to this bill coming up for a vote soon.”

Representative Dan Donovan (11th District): “Every day, loved ones care for ailing family members, as I did for my mother. It’s emotionally and financially draining, and this legislation establishes a much-needed strategy to recognize and support family caregivers who sacrifice so much.”

Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (12th District): “Family caregivers take care of their loved ones like no one else can. But they need our support. I’m proud to cosponsor the RAISE Family Caregivers Act to develop a strategy that enables caregivers to get the help they need as they assist not only parents, but also spouses and children with disabilities. The loving care family caregivers provide is invaluable to their loved ones, who are able to be home with their families rather than in facilities. These amazing individuals deserve our support. I hope this bill will soon be brought to the House floor for a vote.”

Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (18th District): “I talk to people all over the Hudson Valley who put family first by taking care of their loved ones but have a hard time getting the resources they need.  Putting together a comprehensive strategy to help these folks is the right thing to do and I’m proud to support the RAISE Family Caregivers Act.”

Representative Paul Tonko (20th District): “Family caregivers are the unsung heroes of our health care system, ensuring their loved ones get the compassionate care and support they need to thrive at all stages of life. As life expectancies rise and medical needs become more complex, these selfless individuals become even more critical. They should know that their government has their back and will help them support their family members when they need it most. I’m proud to partner with AARP on this important bill that will help ensure the federal government is ready and able to deliver for our nation’s family caregivers.”

Representative John Kakto (24th District): “Across our country, family caregivers give a tremendous amount of time and attention to provide essential care for their loved ones. Both at home and in Washington, I’ve made it a priority to work with local advocates, families, and caregivers to learn more about what we can do to provide the best quality of care and to support those who provide care. I’m proud to join my colleagues to support the RAISE Act, and will continue to advocate for this bipartisan measure in Congress.”

Representative Brian Higgins (26th District): “Being a primary caregiver for a loved one can be extremely difficult and more should be done to support those tirelessly caring for family members who are disabled, ill or elderly.  This legislation would allow us to better understand the struggles caregivers experience and take a serious, comprehensive look at how we can better address these challenges and coordinate care.”

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AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million that helps people turn their goals and dreams into ‘Real Possibilities’ by changing the way America defines aging. With staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and promote the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare security, financial security and personal fulfillment. AARP also advocates for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name.  As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation magazine, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and our CEO @JoAnn_Jenkins on Twitter.

 

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