Poll: Caring for Caregivers a Priority for Americans
A poll released this week by AARP shows 77 percent of those surveyed from both major political parties favor policies that help support those caregivers.
There are 1.6 million Tennesseans who care for a family member or friend, and Rebecca Kelly, AARP Tennessee state director, says many of them do it at great personal cost.
“We all want to keep our loved ones at home as long as they possibly can, but the burden of that can often be from emotional stress, to balancing work and family to financial stress,” she points out.
This week U.S. Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee joined other members of Congress in the creation of the bipartisan Assisting Caregivers Today (ACT) Caucus.
The caucus will help bring greater attention to family caregiving and helping people live independently, educate Congress on these issues, and engage legislators on a bipartisan basis to help lead to solutions.
Chris Courington of Hendersonville is caring for his aging father as he also works to care for his own family. He says it’s not easy.
“If you think about how busy most families are with two parents working, when you add to that caregiving for someone who is 76 years old, it definitely adds to the stresses of your daily life,” Courington says.
AARP estimates nationwide the value of the unpaid care people provide is $450 billion annually.
Kelly says caregivers actually save the public money in the long run.
“If the family caregiver can have some support to continue to do this, it actually saves taxpayer money, and less government money is necessary to support the family caregiver,” she maintains.
Kelly says the average family caregiver is a 49-year-old female taking care of a 78-year-old woman and provides 20 hours a week of assistance to their loved one.