USAging Applauds Release of Recommendations to Support Family Caregivers and Boost Aging Services

For Immediate Release
September 23, 2021
Contact: Amy Gotwals, agotwals@usaging.org and 202.460.5547
 
WASHINGTON—As the nation grapples with a caregiving crisis that has been worsened by the pandemic, USAging applauds the 26 recommendations released yesterday by the congressionally created RAISE (Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage) Family Caregiving Advisory Council, which not only support the current needs of family caregivers but help boost the infrastructure for this vital support system for older adults and people with disabilities across the country.
 
“This report to Congress and its acknowledgement of the urgent and complex issues faced by caregivers represent a tremendous step forward,” said USAging CEO Sandy Markwood. “Caregivers play a critical role in helping older adults and people with disabilities age well in their homes and communities, often at great emotional, physical and financial cost to themselves. The report’s recommendations recognize this fact and take steps to address the needs of caregivers by providing them with critical support and services that help their loved ones remain living at home and in the community and, by doing so, saving taxpayers’ money by keeping them out of more expensive institutional care settings when that level of care is not needed.”
 
Caregivers are the backbone of the country’s support system for older adults. A look at the numbers shows that caregivers provide an estimated $470 billion in unpaid care to family and friends, and that nearly 42 million of the nation’s 53 million caregivers provide care to someone who is age 50 or older. Caregivers help schedule medical appointments, provide or arrange transportation, cook meals and, importantly, serve as advocates and support systems for their loved ones.
 
USAging’s Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and Title VI Native American Aging Program (Title VI program) members provide an array of services that not only help older adults and people with disabilities age well in their homes and communities, but also support family caregivers. Through the Older Americans Act’s National Family Caregiver Support Program, AAAs and Title VI programs provide information and assistance, training, respite, support groups and other programs that educate caregivers and ease the duties of caregiving, so that this necessary unpaid workforce can continue to provide needed care.
 
“The RAISE Family Caregiving Advisory Council quickly understood that the caregiver experience—regardless of where in America one lives—is uniquely similar,” said Deborah Stone-Walls, USAging’s Chief of Programs and Services and a member of the RAISE Family Caregiving Advisory Council which prepared the recommendations.
 
“Although caregivers share the satisfaction of meeting the needs of those for whom they care that is borne out of love and expressed through daily service, they face a multitude of challenges. As a nation, it’s time to fully recognize the value of caregiving and establish tangible systems of support that truly undergird and maximize family and informal caregiver efforts. There is still much work for the Council—and all of us as advocates—to do to advance better policies for caregivers, but reaching this milestone is important and worth celebrating,” said Stone-Walls. “I look forward to working with my fellow council members to now develop comprehensive strategies to transform this report’s recommendations into actionable steps through the creation of the National Family Caregiving Strategy.” The national strategy will outline critical actions that can be taken by public and private sectors to better support family caregivers in ways that reflect their diverse needs and serve as a roadmap for federal, state and community action to better support family caregivers.
 
The next stop for the recommendations is the halls of Congress where they were hand-delivered yesterday. Attention now turns to educating members of Congress on the impact these recommendations could have on the lives of the nation’s caregivers—and those for whom they provide care.
 
“The nation must seize this critical moment to support the ability of older adults and people with disabilities to age well in the community by improving coordination and buttressing already existing systems of support for caregivers, including those provided by AAAs and Title VI programs, to deliver much-needed resources to our nation’s care infrastructure,” said Markwood.
 
About USAging
USAging is the national association representing and supporting the network of Area Agencies on Aging and advocating for the Title VI Native American Aging Programs. Our members help older adults and people with disabilities throughout the United States live with optimal health, well-being, independence and dignity in their homes and communities.
 
Our members are the local leaders that develop, coordinate and deliver a wide range of home and community-based services, including information and referral/assistance, case management, home-delivered and congregate meals, in-home services, caregiver supports, transportation, evidence-based health and wellness programs, long-term care ombudsman programs and more.
 
USAging is dedicated to supporting the success of our members through advancing public policy, sparking innovation, strengthening the capacity of its members, raising their visibility and working to drive excellence in the fields of aging and home and community-based services.
 
About the RAISE Family Caregiving Advisory Council
The Family Caregiving Advisory Council (the Council) was established by the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act and convened for the first time in August 2019. The Council includes representation by federal agencies and 15 voting members, including family caregivers; older adults who need long-term services and supports; individuals with disabilities; health care and social service providers; providers of long-term services and supports; employers; paraprofessional workers; state and local officials; accreditation bodies; veterans; and as appropriate, other experts and advocacy organizations engaged in family caregiving. The Council is charged with providing recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on effective models of both family caregiving and support to family caregivers, as well as improving coordination across federal government programs. For more information, visit www.acl.gov/RAISE.