Caregivers Need Care Too
It’s likely that someone you know has provided unpaid care to a person over the age of 50 in the last year. In fact, a new study conducted by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving has found that 34.2 million Americans (over 14 percent of the adult population) have cared for an aging adult in the past 12 months. This work is a crucial part of health care delivery in the United States, but our national conversation routinely fails to acknowledge the costs of our reliance on this unpaid, difficult labor.
By not fairly compensating people for the care they provide, we are asking many to make a horrible choice: to care for a loved one or care for themselves. Indeed, 85 percent of unpaid care is provided by a relative, and some struggle to fill this role while also working to pay their bills. The researchers, who compiled their results in a report called “Caregiving in the U.S. 2015,” found:
Caregivers are often performing tasks beyond the traditional Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs). They frequently help with more advanced care, such as medical/nursing tasks, that healthcare professionals might typically perform. Caregivers are acting as advocates and communicators on behalf of their loved ones. They want to have conversations with healthcare providers about their care recipient’s needs….Caregivers are working while providing care, resulting in impacts on their work, with some being forced to opt out of the workforce altogether.
As our population ages and more baby boomers need in-home personal care, it is imperative that we provide caregivers more financial and emotional support, better training and a sense that their work is valued by our communities. SEIU Local 2015 is fighting to get home care workers the respect they have earned so that America can have the future it deserves.