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M E D I A A D V I S O R Y
Statement of Kathleen Kelly in Support of National Family Caregivers Month in November
Family Caregiver Alliance Urges New Administration to Recognize and Support the Important Work of Family Caregivers
SAN FRANCISCO--With the attention focused on the country's economic situation and the election, the celebration of National Family Caregivers Month in November might be overlooked. That would be a tragedy.
Families and friends provide nearly 80 percent of the long-term care in the United States’ unpaid care valued at $350 billion a year. Their dedication in the face of sometimes overwhelming challenges helps to keep frail and elderly Americans at home, out of expensive care institutions, as long as possible.
Caregivers span every age, gender, culture, religion and ethnicity. We honor and pay special attention to their efforts this month, recognizing the extraordinary courage they display in caring for those who can no longer care for themselves. That care comes at enormous physical, emotional and financial sacrifice, and it is imperative that caregivers be supported with practical, cost-saving home and community-based services.
Why is investment in caregiver support so vital? Services like caregiver education, counseling and respite contribute to a family's ability to provide long-term assistance to a loved one. In turn, this can delay nursing home placement and reduce the reliance on programs like Medicaid. In fact, support services for caregivers have been shown to deter institutionalization of persons with moderate dementia by nearly a year. In addition, informal caregivers personally lose about $659,139 over a lifetime: $25,494 in Social Security benefits; $67,202 in pension benefits; and $566,433 in forgone wages.
We encourage the President-Elect Obama’s new administration to acknowledge family caregivers and provide the services and programs that can support them in their important work. Lawmakers, themselves often providing care for their aging parents, have in the past recognized the importance of making a commitment to support and strengthen caregiving families. We urge them to renew their efforts.
Kathleen Kelly is Executive Director of Family Caregiver Alliance. FCA, founded in 1977, operates programs at the national and local levels to sustain and support the important work of families providing care to loved ones affected by chronic, disabling health conditions. Offering information, education, policy analysis, consultation and research, Family Caregiver Alliance's National Center on Caregiving works to advance the development of caregiver support policies and programs in every state in the country. FCA’s new online feature, Family Care Navigator, offers assistance to families in all 50 states.
For more information on caregiving, visit www.caregiver.org call FCA at (800) 445-8106, or email info(at)caregiver(dot)org
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