November is National Caregivers Month. Caregivers help make it possible for older Americans and other loved ones to live independently at home—where they want to be.
Every day, a silent army of Americans performs a great labor of love by helping their parents and spouses remain at home. Family caregivers help their older loved ones with medications and medical care, meals, bathing and dressing, chores and much more. Family caregivers perform unpaid care valued at $17-18 million for New York City, helping their loved ones stay at home—and out of costly institutional care, often paid for by Medicaid.
Caring for mom or dad can be expensive, stressful, and isolating. Family caregivers often put their own health and well-being second, third or fourth. While these family caregivers wouldn’t have it any other way, they need some support. Many do it all while also working full- or part-time. Some are on call 24/7, and often they can’t even take a break.
We can support family caregivers so they can safely care for their older loved ones at home—keeping them out of nursing homes, and preventing unnecessary and costly hospitalizations. We can help with some basic support—and commonsense solutions—like training, help at home, flexibility at work, and tools to make big responsibilities a little bit easier.
To this end, AARP strongly supports and testified in favor of NYC Council bill, Intro. 108-A, which would prohibit employment discrimination based on an individual’s actual or perceived status as a caregiver. We will continue to organize AARP’s members and advocate for this bill’s enactment.
AARP was also instrumental in the recent passage of state-level legislation, the CARE Act, which will ensure hospital patients’ designated family caregivers are offered instruction in providing needed care at home.
As the population ages, there will be fewer potential caregivers to care for more frail elderly. Things will only get worse—unless caregivers get help. In New York State in 2010, there was a potential pool of 6.6 people aged 45-65 (i.e. Gen Xers and Boomers) for every person 80 and older who would likely need care at some point. That number will shrink to 4.8 by 2030 and 3.5 by 2050.
In an AARP survey of 50+ voters, respondents felt very strongly that elected officials in NYC should make support for family caregivers a priority. Eight in ten voters overall want this to be a top (50%) or high (29%) priority for the City’s elected officials.
AARP's local NYC advocacy effort will be working to support caregivers and needs your help! Please sign on to volunteer!