If you knew a tsunami was coming, wouldn’t you prepare? The fact is, a massive swell is building — a demographic one that will affect families, businesses, and communities alike. By the middle of this century, the U.S. population over age 65 will double from what it was in 2010. The question is, how can we prepare? Who will help care for this rapidly growing population, especially as people live longer with more complex and chronic healthcare needs?
The answer: the same people who help support aging loved ones now — family caregivers. From navigating doctor’s appointments to legal and financial planning, managing prescriptions to administering medical care at home, 44 million Americans are involved in family caregiving today. But proportionally, demand is on a fast-track to outstrip supply.
AARP knows that making family caregiving manageable can’t wait until our society’s need is at its greatest. That’s why AARP is determined to equip every family caregiver with what they need, when and where they need it.
We understand family caregiving is a role anyone may play at some point in life, and many will take it on more than once when caring for a parent, sibling, or spouse; yet few will get any formal training or support. Family caregiving is unpaid work most will juggle along with jobs and other responsibilities.
With the value of family caregivers’ work estimated at $470 billion per year, health systems and insurers are realizing that involved, well-prepared family caregivers can help to reduce rehospitalizations and bring down costs. Meanwhile, healthcare providers are increasingly seeing the many ways family caregivers’ support for their loved ones improves patient care and quality of life.
AARP knows these trends mean more and more healthcare will move from the hospital and doctor’s office and into people’s homes in the coming decades, so we are using the full force of our strategic resources to make family caregiving viable, visible, and valued in America. Whether our focus is on caregivers or the businesses that employ them, healthcare providers or policymakers who set the stage for what they do, we work at every level to get this private labor of love recognized as the public good it is — for families and for our society.
Some of the many ways AARP is taking action include providing resources to help families navigate the health and legal systems, keep their loved one safe, and manage their own life balance; working with employers to create caregiving-friendly workplaces and advocating for bipartisan, common-sense policies. Over the last few years, AARP has successfully championed caregiving-related laws in all 50 states as well as the bipartisan RAISE Family Caregivers Act, signed into law this year, which will create a federal task force to look at ways to support to family caregivers.
When home is where the care is, we can all do more to make sure patients and family members have what they need to thrive. Please visit www.aarp.org/caregiving to view AARP’s comprehensive free resources and find out how you can get involved.