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AARP Survey Shows Large Majority of Utah Voters 45+ Strongly Support Measures to Help Unpaid Family Caregivers

Care_Givers
(Midvale, UT)  AARP Utah today released finding from a statewide survey highlighting Utah caregiver experiences, challenges, and needs.  Utah has a huge unpaid work force in the form of family caregivers—382,000 Utahns provide an estimated $4.2 billion in economic value to the state every year through their service.  But this labor takes a toll.

According to the survey, more than half (56 percent) of Utah caregivers age 45 and older report that they have worked full or part-time while caregiving.  Nearly six in ten caregivers have gone into work early or late or take time off to provide care, and more than one-fourth have taken a leave of absence to provide care.  Most registered Utah voters over age 45 have experience as family caregivers currently or in the past (54 percent).   Of those who have never provided care, more than half (57 percent) say they are likely to do so in the future.  The typical caregiver in the state is a woman (59 percent) and over 55 years old (76 percent).

The survey of 800 registered voters age 45 and older, 2015 AARP Caregiving Survey:  Working Family Caregivers,  found that over 80 percent of those surveyed support measures to protect family caregivers who are working by providing some leave for caregiving.  This ranges for support for requiring employers to provide a limited amount of sick leave to be used for caregiving (83 percent) to requiring employers to provide paid leave for caregiving (67 percent).

Both current and past caregivers have provided care in a myriad of ways, with more than 60 percent assisting with complex care like medication management and other medical tasks.  More than eight in ten help with household responsibilities and most (62 percent) help manage finances for their loved ones.   According to Shelly Condie of Salt Lake City, who helped care for her son Brian who died of cancer at age 37, “The financial burden is horrendous.  We helped with transportation, taking care of the children, and financially.  It really takes a team of people to care for someone 24/7.”

AARP supports public policy proposals that would help ease the financial and emotional burden faced by caregivers, such as an income tax credit for unpaid caregivers.  Utahns also support this proposal, with 84 percent of survey respondents favoring this idea.

Respondents were also asked about allowing registered nurses to delegate some of their responsibilities to a home health worker to relieve the caregivers from having to hire a nurse or perform the tasks themselves.  This proposal also received overwhelming support, with nearly nine in ten (88 percent) expressing support.

Many current and past caregivers (59 percent) say it is likely that they will need to provide care again in the future, and nearly all of these caregivers (97 percent) believe it is important to provide care so that their loved ones can keep living independently at home.  Ninety percent of these caregivers also believe it is important to have more resources and training to provide in-home care.  But caregiving takes a toll.  Many feel emotionally (59 percent) and financially stressed (27 percent).  They are also stressed about not being able to take care of their needs or the needs of other family members.

An earlier report released by AARP, Raising Expectations 2014:  A State Scorecard on Long-Term Care Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers Scorecard, ranked Utah 50 th for its support of family caregivers, a composite indicator looking at legal supports and stress levels, among other factors.  Utah fared poorly in its ability to allow nurses to delegate duties, with only one of sixteen health maintenance tasks allowed to be delegated to a home health care worker. [1]

“Caregivers in Utah clearly need more support and the ability to care for their loved ones in a manner that is efficient, cost-effective, and without undue stress,” stated AARP Utah President Donna Russell.  “We hope that this survey underscores the need for the state to examine ways to make the lives of these unsung heroes easier so that people needing care can stay at home as long as possible.”

This survey is part of AARP’s I Heart Caregivers campaign, which is designed to support, inform, and advocate for caregivers across Utah and around the country.  A copy of these findings is posted at http://bit.ly/1IdKlVV .  Attachment:  Infographic of survey’s key findings.

[1] Examples of these tasks include administering medications, including eye or ear drops, administering oxygen therapy, and performing ventilator respiratory care.

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