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RALEIGH -- As North Carolina’s population ages, nearly all of the state’s voters ages 45 plus (92%) believe it is important to be able to provide care so their loved ones can keep living independently in their own homes. 2014 North Carolina Caregiving Report FINAL collected the opinions of North Carolina residents on issues related to providing unpaid care to loved ones and proposals to provide support for family caregivers.

Caregiving can mean many different things. It can include shopping, transportation to and from medical appointments, doing household chores or managing the finances of someone with physical or cognitive limitations. It can also involve much more complex tasks like managing medications, dressing wounds and overseeing nursing and other medical tasks.

According to AARP Associate State Director Mary Bethel, “The common bond among caregivers in North Carolina is that it affects us all. Most of us are, or will be caregivers for family members and loved ones. Currently, 1.7 million people are providing care to adult family members at some point of time this year,” she said.

According to AARP, the average caregiver in the US is a 49 years old, female, and is most often balancing work and her own family needs. In North Carolina, 77 percent said they either go to work early, stay late, or take time off to provide care. Their caregiving duties can be 24/7 and some may not have any workplace protections that provide a limited amount of paid or unpaid leave for caregiving.

Survey respondents strongly favor (84 percent) assurances that employees cannot be fired for taking time off for caregiving purposes. An equal number support requiring employers to provide a limited amount of unpaid leave for caregiving.

North Carolina is both a growing state and an aging state.  According to the NC Department of Health and Human Services, 60 counties currently have more people age 60 and above than those age 17 and under. By 2025, that number will grow to 90 counties.

With the age wave, comes an increase in the demand for programs that help people stay in their homes and provide some support for family caregivers. Currently in North Carolina, there are about 8,500 older adults on waiting lists to receive services like home-delivered meals in-home care services.

Nearly all (97 percent) of those AARP surveyed said it is important to have services in the community to help people live independently, and 84 percent support increased funding to address the waiting lists for these services.

Bill Lamb, president of the NC Coalition on Aging, agrees. “Family caregivers, care recipients and home and community-based care service providers are holding a Lobby Day on March 17. They will explain to members of the General Assembly how supporting family caregivers not only helps improve the health of reipients, but also improves the health of caregivers and makes workplaces more productive.

“What’s most at stake during this legislative session are the programs supported through the Home and Community Care Block Grant program like home-delivered meals and in-home health aides. Although the need for these programs has grown, funding has remained flat or has been cut. In fact, last year almost $1 million was cut from the Block Grant,” he added.

The AARP Caregiving Survey was conducted by telephone by Precision Opinion from November 10 – November 19, 2014. It surveyed 800 registered voters ages 45 plus and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 %.





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