By Mike Festa, State Director, AARP Massachusetts
If you are not currently a caregiver, chances are you will be in the future. In Massachusetts, approximately 840,000 family caregivers provided an estimated 700 million hours of care — worth a staggering $12 billion — to their parents, spouses, partners, and friends in 2017. The complexity of family caregiving increases as medical and nursing tasks continue to enter the home, and family demographics change amidst an aging population. Nationwide, AARP is fighting to support America’s 40 million family caregivers who help make it possible for older Americans and other loved ones to live independently at home—where they want to be.
Every day, millions of Americans perform a great labor of love by helping their parents and spouses remain at home. While these family caregivers wouldn’t have it any other way, they need some support. Family caregivers help their older loved ones with medications and medical care, meals, bathing and dressing, chores and much more. Many do it all while also working full- or part-time. Some are on call 24/7, and often they can’t even take a break.
We can support family caregivers so they can safely care for their older loved ones at home—keeping them out of nursing homes, and preventing unnecessary and costly hospitalizations. We can help with some basic support—and commonsense solutions—like training, help at home, flexibility at work, and tools to make big responsibilities a little bit easier.
Family caregivers are the first line of defense against older Americans being forced from their homes and into nursing homes or back into the hospital—and it’s not easy. Caring for mom or dad can be expensive, stressful, and isolating. Family caregivers often put their own health and well-being second, third or fourth.
Family caregivers perform unpaid care valued at $470 billion a year, helping their loved ones stay at home—and out of costly institutional care, often paid for by Medicaid. In every state, the value of this unpaid care is greater than the annual cost of Medicaid for institutional stays, like nursing homes, and services to help people remain at home.
It can be difficult to navigate through your role as a family caregiver, but AARP is here to help. Please visit AARP for caregiving resources at www.aarp.org/caregiving. You will find resources and support guides, an online community, and a toll-free caregiver support line at 877-333-5885.