Elmira Caregivers Speak Out On Financial, Emotional Stress of Caregiving
New AARP Survey Finds Caregivers – Who Save NY’s Health Care System $32 Billion Annually – Struggle to Balance Work and Family, Need More Support
ELMIRA, NY – New Yorkers age 50 and older are concerned about their ability to stay in their home as they age and overwhelmingly want services available to help them to do so, according to a new AARP New York survey presented at a Caregiving Listening Session in Elmira today.
The need is even more pressing in Chemung County, where 16.1 percent of the population is 65 or older compared with 14.1 percent statewide.
New York’s population is rapidly aging, making it increasingly important to provide support for the state’s 4.1 million unpaid, informal family caregivers who deliver the bulk of long-term care in the state – care valued at $32 billion.
The AARP survey reveals that a large number of NewYorkers anticipate needing to provide care to a family member or friend and see a role for New York State in providing supports and services.
Informal family caregivers provide 2.68 billion hours of unpaid care. As baby boomers age, these numbers are expected to grow. By 2030, over three-fourths of upstate New York’s counties are projected to have a 20 percent or greater share of elderly.
A 2011 report ranked New York State 48th out of 50 states for its support of family caregivers. The State’s overall ranking for its long-term care services and supports was 41st out of 50.
The report’s findings were part of the discussion at a gathering of caregivers, community leaders, and policy makers in Elmira, including Rep. Tom Reed, for a Caregiver Listening Session hosted by AARP New York, the New York State Caregiving & Respite Coalition, and the Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City, Inc. The Elmira event is one of nine listening sessions being held across New York.
“We all care about aging loved ones. Caregivers allow our loved ones to have the opportunity to stay in their homes and be closer to family as they age,” said Congressman Tom Reed. “Hearing caregivers’ firsthand experience is vital in coming up with policy proposals to support them and those they care for. This year in Congress, I have been working on a number of home care, palliative care, and hospice initiatives and hearing directly from caregivers, health care professionals, and AARP members will help strengthen those proposals. We want to be supportive at the federal level of their efforts and help them continue to provide important care each and every day.”
At the session, caregivers discussed how the time and effort invested in caring for a loved one can lead to emotional stress, isolation, and even depression. Many caregivers struggle with balancing working full-time while raising children and caring for an elderly parent, and feel the financial strain of both. The caregivers are looking for more support, including more services like respite care and home-based care that could help ease their burden.
“By keeping loved ones out of costly, taxpayer-funded institutional settings, New York’s unpaid caregivers save the state money and allow people to remain in their homes as they age,” said Neal Lane, AARP New York State President. “Simply put, investing in caregivers is a wise investment. Through these caregiver listening sessions, we want to hear directly from caregivers to help formulate policy proposals that would help improve their lives and sustain them in the important roles they play.”
Key findings of the survey include:
- 61% of respondents are worried about staying in their homes as they get older.
- 25% of those who are or have been caregivers dedicate at least 40 hours a week to those duties.
- 56% of respondents indicated that it was at least somewhat likely that they will need to provide unpaid care to an adult relative or friend.
- 32% of respondents either are or have been caregivers in the past year.
- 59% of those who have been or are caregivers are employed.
- 90% of respondents said that it is extremely, very or somewhat important that home and community based services be available in their communities.
- 77% of respondents support a role for New York State in providing supports and services to help people stay in their homes and communities.
“Caregiving is one of the most important issues affecting New Yorkers today,” said Igal Jellinek, Executive Director of the Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City, Inc. “We are looking forward to these listening sessions to hear from caregivers and other community members. Through their words and shared experiences, we will develop policy recommendations that will make caregiving a legislative priority in New York State.”
“Caregivers are the backbone of the entire long-term care system,” said Ann Marie Cook, President/CEO of Lifespan & Director of the NYS Caregiving & Respite Coalition. “As providers, we want to recognize the extraordinary work of unpaid caregivers, assist them and strengthen needed services. To do that, we need to listen. We are thrilled to join AARP in these listening sessions to learn from those who do so much day in and day out.”
The full survey and information on future listening sessions around the state can be found at www.aarp.org/ny.
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