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AARP Washington Bolsters Support for Family Caregivers

Caregivers holding onto one another in an embrace

Jeff Ketchel’s mother-in-law came to live with his family in Spokane in March, when her worsening dementia meant she no longer remembered to take her heart medications, pay bills on time or eat healthy meals.

The 82-year-old, who goes by the nickname G.G., had lived with the family before, helping care for their three children. Now, she needed help herself—and the Ketchels were already stretched thin.

“It’s this challenge of wanting to spend time with our kids and supporting their activities and interests and not being consumed with caregiving for G.G., but also to ensure she’s getting all the care that she needs,” Ketchel says.

A new AARP Washington campaign called Caring for Caregivers is focused on supporting family caregivers such as the Ketchels. A webpage——is designed to connect caregivers with information about long-term care options, finances, housing alternatives and other relevant topics.

The page has a new Caring for Caregivers video podcast, featuring discussions with caregiving professionals and community leaders. Washington caregivers share personal stories in the Faces of Caregiving section.

Financial, emotional strain

In 2021, Washington had 820,000 family caregivers. They provided approximately 770 million hours of unpaid care valued at an estimated $16.8 billion, according to AARP research.

The need for caregivers is only rising as the number of older people grows and home care workforce shortages continue, says Marguerite Ro, AARP Washington state director. The number of Washington residents age 65 and older grew by 51.3 percent from 2010 to 2020, census data shows.

“What we can do to support family caregivers becomes that much more important,” Ro says.

Ketchel, 52, and his wife, Emily, 46, who both have full-time jobs, hope to hire a part-time caregiver to look after G.G. while they’re at work. In the meantime, like many caregivers, they are juggling competing demands.

A 2022 AARP survey of 704 Washingtonians 45 and older found that 67 percent were providing care for an adult relative or friend or had done so in the past. Seventy-five percent of caregivers were also employed while providing care.

Nearly half of those surveyed—48 percent—said being a caregiver had had a major impact on their financial situation, and 67 percent said they felt emotionally stressed because of their caregiving responsibilities.

Many people aren’t aware of the state and local resources that can help, Ro says. For example, the state’s property tax exemption for individuals with disabilities and qualified older adults can help some people afford to remain in their homes, she says.

Cathy Knight, statewide director of the Washington Association of Area Agencies on Aging, urges people to seek support before they become desperate and feel they don’t have options. The association has links to national and state resources at Also find state-specific information at

Hilary Appelman is a writer living in State College, Pennsylvania.

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