Monroe County 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
ROCHESTER, 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 Rochester today, attended by New York State Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle and Assemblyman Mark Johns.
The need is even more pressing in Monroe County and other upstate areas. Currently, 13.9 percent of the county’s population is age 65 and older, but it’s projected to jump to over 20 percent by 2050 – while the 75+ population is expected to increase by 150 percent. The core of the crisis will be in the suburbs, where 81 percent of the county’s 60+ population resides.
New York’s rapidly aging population makes 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 need to support family caregivers is further illustrated by the care gap that will result from aging baby boomers outnumbering available caregivers. According to another recent report from AARP, in New York State the caregiver support ratio (the number of potential caregivers aged 45 – 64 for each person aged 80 and older) was 6.6 to 1 in 2010. By 2030, the ratio is projected to decline sharply to 4.8 to 1, and by 2050, it is expected to fall even further, to 3.5 to 1.
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.
These findings were part of the discussion at a gathering of caregivers, community leaders, and policy makers for a Caregiver Listening Session hosted by AARP New York, the New York State Caregiving & Respite Coalition (NYSCRC), and the Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City, Inc. (CSCS). The event at Brighton Town Hall was the last of nine listening sessions held across New York.
“As our population ages, the need for caregiver support will only grow,” said Majority Leader Morelle. “The recent report ranking New York 48th in the nation for caregiver services indicates an urgent need for a new focus on this issue. I’m grateful to the AARP for the opportunity to take part in today’s discussion and in the larger debate about how New York can help families face the challenge of aging.”
“As a member of the State Assembly’s Aging Committee, advocating for our community’s seniors is one of my top priorities,” said Assemblyman Johns. “The AARP’s Caregiving Listening Session provides me the tools I need to best advocate for New York’s aging population. It also gives seniors the opportunity to have their voices heard so that we can best enact change in Albany and in our community.”
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 have heard directly from caregivers to help us formulate policy proposals that would help improve their lives and sustain them in the important roles they play.”
AARP New York will release a blueprint for action this fall based on the information collected from the listening sessions and is convening at statewide summit on caregiver support in Albany on November 21.
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.”
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