NYS Ranks Near Last in Support for Unpaid Caregivers; AARP Announces Blueprint to Avert Disaster, Makes Issue a Top 2014 Legislative Priority
GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – New York State is already at the bottom of the barrel in providing needed supports for 4.1 million unpaid caregivers, and today, AARP warned a looming demographic shift leaving fewer people able to provide that care – valued at $32 billion annually – could spell disaster. The Association joined with fellow advocates at the Greater Glens Falls Senior Citizen Center to call for change, releasing a blueprint for the state to fix New York’s caregiver problems and prevent the crisis from becoming a disaster.
AARP says the plan will protect the elderly and frail and save taxpayers money by strengthening supports for more than four million unpaid, informal family caregivers.
The Empire State ranks 48th in providing support to the over 4 million unpaid caregivers who deliver an estimated $32 billion per year in care to loved ones, oftentimes older relatives. If that wasn’t bad enough, a recent AARP analysis finds the caregiving bubble in New York is about to burst, meaning there will be fewer family members to provide care for older relatives. In 2010 there was a potential pool of 6.6 people aged 45-65 for every person 80 and older who would likely need care at some point. By 2030, potential caregivers in the state will shrink to 4.8 to each person over 80, and in 2050, there will be just 3.5 people to provide the care, according to the analysis.
AARP estimates that nearly 30,000 residents 50 and older in Warren and Washington counties – more than half – expect to provide unpaid care to an adult relative or friend in the next five years. More than 16,000 – nearly a third of the counties’ 50+ population – are already doing so or have done so in the last year. A quarter of them spend 40 hours or more a week on caregiving – the equivalent of a full-time job – and most of them already have jobs. And nearly half of them have had to go to work late, leave work early or take time off during the day to provide care.
Today, AARP, the New York State Caregiving & Respite Coalition and the Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City, Inc. warned that New York will pay the price if it doesn’t act to support the state’s caregivers. As more Boomers face the demands of family caregiving and the state’s elderly population struggles with where to turn, the Association is making fixing New York’s caregiver problems a top priority.
It’s a top issue for 50+ voters, who make up the most powerful voting demographic in the state. AARP is working to make sure the Governor and lawmakers hear that message loud and clear.
Today, AARP and its partners released Caregivers in Crisis; New York Must Act, which urges Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature to:
- Establish a “Community Care Navigator” program to help caregivers develop personalized roadmaps to direct them to available help, support and services for their ailing parents, spouses, loved ones – and themselves.
- Provide adequate funding to the State Office for the Aging for cost-effective non-Medicaid-funded caregiving assistance programs, starting with a $26 million down payment to move about 7,000 New Yorkers off waiting lists and into existing programs.
- Train caregivers to perform more medical procedures themselves.
- Strengthen family leave policies to protect workforce productivity.
- Ensure access to competent legal assistance and protect the vulnerable from fraud and exploitation.
- Promote and increase affordable housing options designed to enhance independence.
- Expand successful volunteer services models to provide help and contain costs.
- Encourage direct-care staff recruitment and retention.
Those recommendations grew out of suggestions AARP and its partners received from about 1,400 caregivers, 900 of whom attended 12 listening sessions around the state this summer and fall, including August 22 in Glens Falls. Those caregivers and 500 more who responded to an on-line survey agreed that New York is not doing enough to support them.
“The lack of support and services for caregivers in New York is already a crisis, and it’s moving toward disaster,” said Neal Lane, AARP New York State President. “We ranked 48th of the 50 states in a national AARP survey on support for family caregivers. And a looming population shift in New York will result in fewer caregivers to care for more elderly residents, stretching caregivers even thinner.”
Already, the number of caregivers in New York has grown to 32%, from 25% in the 1990s. And as the population ages, there will be fewer caregivers for more New Yorkers in need of care.
“We call on Governor Cuomo and the Legislature to create a Community Care Navigator program to develop a personal roadmap for each caregiver to find the information, services and supports he or she needs,” said Erin Mitchell, AARP’s Associate State Director for Northeastern New York. “This was the top concern among the caregivers we listened to around the state, who want to take care of their loved ones but too often don’t know where to start or where to turn.”
In Warren County, residents 65 and older already account for 18.4 percent of the population, well above the statewide percentage of 14.1. And by 2030, those 65 and older are projected to account for more than one of every four Warren County residents – 26.7 percent.
“Here in Warren and Hamilton Counties, most of our budget goes to respite services – which give caregivers a needed break and allow them to keep going. But it’s not nearly enough to meet demand,” said Christie Sabo, Director of the Warren/Hamilton Counties Office for the Aging. “And our budget limitations leave very little for much-needed caregiver training and support activities. I applaud AARP’s call for adequate state funding for cost-effective caregiver support programs through SOFA (the State Office for the Aging).”
“Caregivers want a clear and concise guide to available resources,” said Joan K. Tarantino, Executive Director of The Glens Falls Home, Inc. “When caregivers are provided resource information, their response is, ‘Thank-You!’ It is important for a caregiver not only to have access to this information, but be shown how to apply it to their personal situation.”
“Every day family caregivers across New York state struggle with issues like providing personal care for loved ones,” said Ann Marie Cook, Director of the NYS Caregiving & Respite Coalition and President/CEO of Lifespan of Greater Rochester. “Every day they worry about aging parents. Every day they hope to avoid the crisis that will tip the delicate balance of independence versus dependence for aging family members. As is clear from the listening tour, they need more guidance, more information, and most of all, they need our help keeping loved ones at home.”
“We heard the voices of New York’s caregivers and their needs are clear,” said Igal Jellinek, Executive Director of the Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City, Inc. “Both caregivers and their loved ones need meaningful support, guidance and resources to ensure that older people can age with dignity in New York State. We need to act now to address this growing demographic.”
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world’s largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity of AARP that is working to win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50+ by being a force for change on the most serious issues they face today: housing, hunger, income and isolation. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.