Like it or not, we're all getting older, and most of us are likely to need some type of assistance in managing daily activities as we age. In Connecticut, like in much of the country, unpaid family caregivers provide the bulk of this care for their loved ones - whether a spouse, parent, sibling, child or friend. Likewise, if you haven't already been a family caregiver, chances are pretty good that you will be in the future. As the backbone of our long-term care system, family caregivers provide over $5 billion in unpaid care, and could benefit from additional resources and training to help them balance the care they provide to others with their work and other obligations. This Spring, AARP conducted a survey of Connecticut residents age 40 and older to learn about their experiences with family caregiving, as well as their opinions on proposals to support family caregivers in the state. Not surprisingly, the survey found overwhelming support for additional training and resources for family caregivers, so that these individuals can continue to help their loved ones remain at home as they age, and maintain their own health and wellbeing.
So what exactly did our survey find? The typical family caregiver in Connecticut is a married woman in her 50s. Nearly half are still working full or part-time and about 15 percent say that have taken at least a week off from work to care for a loved one in the past year. The survey found substantial support for proposals that would provide help to working caregivers, such as ensuring that employers cannot fire an employee for taking time off for family caregiving purposes and requiring employers to provide a limited amount of leave to employees who have to take time off for family caregiving purposes, either unpaid or paid.
It also shows strong support for a number of proposals to help family caregivers navigate the health care system on behalf of their loved ones, such as requiring hospitals to record patients’ caregiver names in their medical records upon admission; keeping caregivers informed of decisions, such as transfers and discharges; and instructing caregivers how to perform medical tasks they may need to do once the patient returns home.
A majority of those polled also think elected officials in Connecticut should make it a top or high priority to strengthen laws and regulations that support family caregivers, as well as fund services that help them continue to provide care to their loved ones. View the full survey results.
The survey is part of a larger effort by AARP Connecticut to hear from unpaid family caregivers about the challenges they face and the kinds of information and additional resources necessary to assist them in their role as caregiver. In the coming weeks and months ahead, we'll be in the community hosting Caregiver Listening Sessions and community forums aimed at learning more about the needs of caregivers in our state, and making sure they have the information and reosurces they need to take care of themselves, and those they love.
Find additional resources for family caregivers, and connect with a support network of others providing unpaid care at www.aarp.org/caregiving.
For more information or questions about upcoming AARP events in Connecticut, please send an email to email@example.com or call toll-free 1-866-295-7279.