Release: Caregiving in the Presidential Campaign

Category:

CARING ACROSS GENERATIONS APPLAUDS GROUNDBREAKING INTRODUCTION OF CAREGIVING ISSUES INTO 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN

As America’s Baby Boomers rapidly age into their senior years, Caring Across Generations, a national movement of families, caregivers, people with disabilities and aging Americans working to transform the way America cares, is encouraged to see caregiving recognized as an issue of concern by policymakers, including the country’s 2016 presidential candidates.

“Caregiving is one of the most pressing, prevalent issues facing our country today. The next president will play a leading role in determining how Americans access and provide care in the future – the shifting demographics of this country will demand it,” said Ai-jen Poo, Caring Across Generations co-director. “We are excited to see an in-depth national conversation finally starting around caregiving, especially one that takes into account the value of both family and professional caregivers. Caring Across Generations released principles on caregiving at the White House Conference on Aging last July, and we will call on all presidential candidates to articulate their positions on caregiving issues to voters during their campaigns, including addressing the needs of the caregiving workforce, the families they support, and the older adults and people with disabilities who need care.”

With someone in the U.S turning 65 every eight seconds, and 90 percent of Americans preferring to receive care in their homes rather than in a facility, demand for caregiving is rapidly growing. But existing programs provide insufficient support, most families cannot afford to hire home care workers, private long-term care insurance is increasingly out of reach, and family caregivers are stretched too thin. Meanwhile, though home care is one of the fastest growing industries in our economy, the quality of home care jobs is very poor, with low wages, few benefits and protections, high turnover, and a high level of job stress and hazards.

“As we enter the ‘elder boom’ in America, the current reality is unsustainable,” said Ms. Poo. “Working families deserve the security of knowing they can access high quality care for their loved ones without risking bankruptcy or having to “spend down” all they have worked and saved for throughout their lives. Caregiving options need to be affordable, flexible, accessible, and provide high-quality, culturally competent care. Professional caregivers deserve fair wages and the same types of workplace benefits and protections that many other Americans enjoy.”

Caring Across Generations co-director Sarita Gupta is a family caregiver for her father with Alzheimer’s. She said, “Family caregivers, particularly sandwich generation caregivers like me, are under enormous pressure to work, raise our children, and ensure a dignified quality of life for our parents. We need a system that can support the realities of today’s families. Much of our foundation of long-term care was based upon shorter lifespans, extended families staying close together, and nursing homes built to “protect” those who were too old to care for themselves. So much has changed, and our caregiving infrastructure needs to change and keep up, too.” Gupta continued, “The success of my generation, being able to stay at work – and the success of my daughter’s generation, which is already headed towards a more caring economy – will depend on it.”

Since 2010, Caring Across Generations has advocated for caregiving policies that reflect a new approach to caregiving in America, one that reflects the changing needs of American families. This has included:

  • Long-term care policy reforms that protect and expand Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal programs that invest in and emphasize affordable community- and home-based care.
  • More support for family caregivers, including paid family leave and caregiver credits in Social Security so that caregivers do not get punished for taking time off work to care for family members, and respite care to help prevent burnout.
  • Fair wages and benefits, and better training standards with career pathways for professional caregivers, which are critical to our ability to build the strong home care workforce we need.

“We can be a nation where all people choose where and how they age, all families are supported by a strong care infrastructure and system of support, family and professional caregivers are valued, and caregiving jobs are quality jobs. A nation where we can all age with dignity requires flexible, affordable care options and public investments in supporting and strengthening our careforce – the millions of professional and family caregivers our families rely on every day,” said Ms. Poo. “It is time to bring caregiving into the 21st century, where care and those who provide it are fundamentally valued, once and for all.”

# # #

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 23, 2015

MEDIA CONTACT: Kathleen Duffy, Press & Communications Manager
e: kathleen@caringacrossgenerations.org
c: 773.934.4754

About Caring Across Generations
Caring Across Generations is a national movement of families, caregivers, people with disabilities and aging Americans working to transform the way we care in this country. By harnessing the power of online action, grassroots organizing and innovative culture change work, we are shifting how our nation values caregiving and calling for policy solutions that enable all of us to live and age with dignity and independence. For more information, please visit caringacross.org