Why Advocates are Trying to Push Caregiving onto the 2016 Presidential Agenda

Caregiving is becoming an important topic for the nation to pay attention to, and it is great that the Washington Post is shining the light on family caregiver needs. On October 20, the Washington Post ran an article explaining why caregiving discussions should be on the 2016 presidential agenda. Our Family Caregiver Platform Project and other state representatives and organizations were mentioned for their efforts to introduce legislature on family caregivers. Most presidential candidates have stayed silent about caregivers, but the article listed other organizations that are advocating for family caregiver needs, training, and supports. Presidential candidates should become aware of caregiver needs, speak out on the behalf of these issues, and initiate political action as the election day draws closer.

The link to the full Washington Post article by Tara Bahrampour can be found here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/caregiving-gets-political-as-organizers-push-issue-onto-local-national-agendas/2015/10/20/479fee44-72aa-11e5-8d93-0af317ed58c9_story.html

Time for Family Caregivers to Be Eldercare Activists

The Family Caregiver Platform Project (FCPP) has a number of national partner organizations that provide valuable support for caregivers and care recipients. Our partners are teaming up with us because they share our vision of making caregiver issues part of political discussions throughout the 2016 election cycle. The FCPP helps leverage the work of our partner organizations who are engaged in creating meaningful change through grassroots political actions. Members of our partner organizations are working actively in their states to make this effort a success.

One of our partners is Caring Across Generations, a national campaign that has helped build a coalition of more than 200 organizations advocating for innovation in long-term care. Its co-director, Ai-Jen Poo, believes that as our nation’s aging population soars, new outlooks on aging and caregiving are needed. She’s convinced we are at a moment where the American people will lead a cultural shift to demand better care for our most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly. In an interview in PBS’ Next Avenue, she described baby boomers as “a culture-driving, culture-changing generation.” She expects them to be involved decisively in driving caregiving policy change. But they cannot do it alone. Caring Across is mobilizing family members of all ages to lead the charge in making caregiving a national public policy priority. As Ai-Jen says, “It should be something that every candidate in next year’s presidential election cycle will have to answer for.”

The FCPP website, caregivercorps.org, provides a roadmap for anyone who wants to make their voice heard in their state political party. The FCPP provides model language that is a starting point for submission in your state. It also provides timelines for political party activities, and outlines ways to engage policymakers at the local level. Volunteers in California and Arizona have already succeeded in raising political awareness about family caregiving. You can do the same in your state.

This is a vital movement you can join now. The work we are doing will accelerate in 2016, as more state party platform committees convene to discuss what language will be included in their party statements about key issues.

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 caregivercorps.org 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 caregivercorps.org 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 info@caregivercorps.org.

Download:

California Democratic Party Submission, August 11, 2015

Dayne DuVall

“As a caregiver for my father who passed away after thirteen years battling Alzheimer’s disease, I know first-hand the problems and frustrations that families face providing and financing care. Federal and state governments realize this is a growing problem since we all are living longer. It is imperative that family caregivers have a voice in policy decisions so that they know they have access to resources when they need them most.”

“Financial resources are a difficult topic because of budget constraints, but if governments realize that without the contribution of nearly a half trillion dollars annually from unpaid family caregivers they will be forced to find hard dollars to pay for these health care services.”

Dayne DuVall, Chief Operating Officer, National Certification Board for Alzheimer Care

Caregiving in the United States 2015 Report

Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 is a joint research study between the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP providing new insights into higher-hour caregivers (at least 21 hours of care a week), caregivers ages 75 and older, multicultural caregivers (including African American/black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian American/Pacific Islander populations), and the challenges facing caregivers in the workplace.

You can download the report at: caregiving.org/caregiving2015

Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 provides surprising insight into today’s family caregivers. The typical higher-hour caregiver (who provides unpaid care for at least 21 hours a week) has been caregiving for an average of 5-1/2 years and expects to continue care for another 5 years. Nearly half of these higher-hour caregivers report high emotional stress (46 percent).

Also surprising are findings from subpopulations of caregivers. Today, nearly a quarter of America’s caregivers are millennials between the ages of 18 and 34 and are equally likely to be male or female. On the other end of the spectrum, caregivers ages 75 or older are typically the sole support for their loved one, providing care without paid help or help from relatives and friends. Men, a group often stereotyped as failing to take on caregiving responsibilities, currently represent 40 percent of family caregivers and provide an average of 23 hours a week supporting a loved one.

“As previous AARP research has shown, we’re facing a caregiving cliff,” said Dr. Susan Reinhard, senior vice president and director, AARP Public Policy Institute; and chief strategist, Center to Champion Nursing in America. “By mid-century, there will be only three family caregivers available for each person requiring care. That means, to avoid putting them at higher risk as they age, we need to provide support for existing caregivers who are underserved by the current long-term services and support system.”

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