While invaluable in a myriad of ways in terms of dollars and sense, the value to our society from the hours of support being provided by family caregivers would equal $13 billion a year. However, caring for an older family member can create a financial strain for many families who often spend thousands in out-of-pocket-dollars while being caregivers. Thus, with the expected increase in our aging population, it is time to recognize the value of family caregivers and provide a little help.
This NJ Caregiver’s Assistance Act, which is cosponsored by two Assembly Committee members, Assemblywoman Lampitt and Assemblyman Schaer, would provide desperately needed financial help for the more than 1 million family caregivers in New Jersey who provide more than 1 billion hours of unpaid care each year in helping aging loved ones live independently at home. The bill will support caregiving families by providing a modest tax credit to those who are finding it increasingly difficult to shoulder this essential work in these challenging times.
The bill advanced out of the NJ Assembly Women’s & Children’s Committee this morning.
“There are more than 1 million caregivers in New Jersey providing more than one billion hours of care each year at an estimated value of approximately $13 billion a year,” said AARP New Jersey Chief Legislative Advocate Marilyn Askin. “The care provided by these family caregivers is saving New Jersey taxpayers billions of dollars a year.”
AARP supports The NJ Caregivers Assistance Act, which would provide a gross income tax credit to qualified residents who pay or incur qualified care expenses for the care and support of a senior family member living with the caregiver. A recent AARP survey indicated that the bill is broadly supported among New Jersey residents age 40+ regardless of political affiliation.
The typical caregiver is a 49-year-old-woman who works outside the home, a member of the so-called “sandwich generation”, a daughter or daughter-in-law who takes care of her own children and also spends nearly 20 hours a week providing unpaid care to a mother. Approximately two-thirds of family caregivers are female.
Caregivers of persons 50 and older spend an average of $5,531 out-of-pocket. The economic downturn has resulted in financial hardship and greater stress for many caregivers. Sixty percent reported dents in their personal savings and more than 50% reported greater stress-related problems.
“This bill is a modest proposal to support caregivers from becoming persons at risk themselves. Avoiding caregiver needs may very well produce two “patients” needing substantial intervention,” said Askin. “The bill also aligns with public policy initiatives to reduce expensive and unnecessary hospitalizations and nursing home care.”