Caregivers Start to Raise Their Voices

The movement to include caregiver issues in the agenda of political parties in all 50 states has started to take off, thanks to the efforts of volunteers in Arizona and California. With the help of the team, submissions for platform language additions have been made to both political parties. And the stage is set for caregivers, and those who support them, to join forces in creating awareness and change.

Arizona volunteers Katherine Evans, Lois von Halle, and Bonnie Danowski drafted language about caregiver needs to add to the platform of the Arizona Democratic Party. They attended an open meeting of the Party’s Platform Committee where they met with the committee chair, Dr. Janie Hydrick. Ms. Danowski said they received a warm welcome and that the process had been much easier than anticipated. Energized by their success, the three women plan to meet with representatives of the Arizona Republican Party.

In California, state coordinator Naomi Kirschenbaum has submitted platform language suggestions to both the Democratic and Republican Parties. She recently attended a meeting of the California Democratic Party in Burlingame. At the meeting, the chairperson clarified the party’s platform as a statement of values. Ms. Kirschenbaum was well prepared when her turn to speak came, and handed a written statement to the Platform Committee co-chair as well. She has been so inspired by her experiences that she wants to help organize an additional state!

This is a grassroots movement that needs to be fueled by the passion of local people. The success of our goal—to get caregiving issues included in party platforms across the country—depends on people from all walks of life joining us. Your participation, on whatever level is possible, is key. Model platform plank language is being created for submission to political parties in other states. We will make those templates available on the website to support volunteer organizing efforts.

The voices of 65 million caregivers joined together would be impossible to ignore. There will be many meetings in communities leading up to the 2016 election, opportunities for you to make your voice heard. If you want to join us, find out more at Get Started. Contact us at


California Democratic Party Submission, August 11, 2015

Caregivers and the White House Conference on Aging

This year’s White House Conference on Aging will be unique. Instead of being shaped by legislation directed by Congress, it has sought broad public engagement. During the past year, issues and ideas important to older Americans have been gathered at listening sessions around the country and through comments submitted on the event website,

The White House Conference on Aging is eager for individuals to view and participate in its webcast on July 13. Viewers are encouraged to comment and ask questions via Twitter and Facebook.

Caregiving affects all four of the policy areas that will be discussed: Healthy Aging, Long Term Services and Supports, Elder Justice, and Retirement Security. The conference recognizes caregivers’ stress, their need for navigation of services, and the financial hardships they endure.

Organizations and businesses taking new actions around caregiving and other issues of aging are invited to let the White House know at

Policy Briefs can be found at:

Webcasts of the regional forums held earlier this year are online at:

Portrait of Howard Gleckman

Howard Gleckman coverage of the Family Caregiver Platform Project

Forbes’ contributor Howard Gleckman has a good analysis of why the Family Caregiver Platform Project is positioned to make an impact this political season. Here’s a key quote:

There is no shortage of organizations that advocate for older Americans or causes that are important to them. There are disease-oriented groups, trade associations representing senior service providers, and even groups that lobby explicitly on the needs of caregivers.

But these outfits are focused on ongoing political advocacy. Altarum does not lobby and is not pushing a specific agenda. Rather, it has in mind a one-time, grass-roots initiative aimed at achieving a single goal: Getting caregiver issues on the radar in political season.

You can read the full story at Forbes.

Jim Lee, MS

“Family caregiving delivers enormous social and economic value to both the recipients of the care and society as a whole. A society is judged on how we treat our children, elderly and infirm. Our health care system focuses on and compensates medical procedures, while overlooking caregivers’ substantial efforts to provide comfort and facilitate recovery. It is essential that policymakers understand how policies regarding employment, benefits and social supports effect caregivers’ ability to serve these non-medical needs.”

“Every political party can support the goal of supporting families in their time of need. Let’s set aside our differences and join together to craft policies that will improve care and lower financial burdens in a sustainable way.”

Jim Lee MS
Vice President and Director, Systems Research & Initiatives Group
Altarum Institute

Ira Byock, MD

“Families are the backbone of care for ill people, including patients enrolled in home health or hospice care. Nowadays, caregiving takes a toll of family members’ work life, finances, as well as their emotional and physical wellbeing. It is as if family caregiving itself were a serious diagnosis.”

“Our policies must deliver family caregivers from anonymity and support the vital work they do.”

Ira Byock, MD
Institute for Human Caring, Providence Health & Services, Torrance, CA
Active Emeritus Professor, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
Author of The Best Care Possible