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From navigating medical appointments to legal and financial planning, managing prescriptions to providing medical care at home, caring for an aging or ill loved one is one of the most important and demanding roles any of us will ever take on. Yet almost no family caregiver gets the training or the support needed to do it. Earlier this year, Congress passed and the President signed the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act into law to determine what gaps exist in better supporting family caregivers and to develop a strategy to help address these critical gaps with support from communities, healthcare providers, providers of long-term services and supports, the government, and other key stakeholders.

Right now, one in eight Americans is a family caregiver, a number projected to spike as the Baby Boomer generation grows older. But the simple fact is that this is a role all of us are likely to play at some point in our lives or we may need assistance ourselves. At AARP, we know supporting a loved one is complex and multifaceted—whether it’s cooking and cleaning, trips to the doctor or pharmacist, managing finances, being there at a moment’s notice if there is a fall, and so much more. That’s why we are determined to provide every family caregiver with what they need, when and where they need it– and why we are glad to see forward momentum on two critical implementation activities for the RAISE Family Caregivers Act.

This fall the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) received nominations for the Family Caregiving Advisory Council. The Council will be made up of up to 15 voting members, drawn from the range of stakeholders involved in the family caregiving ecosystem, including family caregivers themselves, as well as older adults who need long-term services and supports; individuals with disabilities; health care and social service providers; veterans; and people from the public and private sectors.

The Labor/Health and Human Services’ Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations conference report includes $300,000 to establish and carry out the Family Caregiving Advisory Council’s activities. One of the most important of these is an initial report that details the challenges involved in serving as a family caregiver, as well as an inventory of current federally-funded programs and information about where and what kind of gaps exist among them. The initial report will form a basis for HHS’ national family caregiving strategy.

At AARP, our work in family caregiving has shown us that every day, across America, family caregivers draw on their personal strength and resourcefulness to provide care and love to the people they support. But too often they feel disconnected: from community, from their family, from medical, legal or financial information, even from resources they need to handle stress and burnout. As an organization, we continue to work on multiple fronts—from policy advocacy to collaborating directly with family caregivers, their employers, and healthcare providers—to ensure caregivers are able to be more supported in their critical role.

As the RAISE Family Caregivers Act Advisory Council convenes in the coming months, AARP looks forward to sharing our knowledge and helping HHS build a strategy that truly meets family caregivers’ multi-faceted, complex needs. Because even though family caregivers’ work often happens behind closed doors, we all benefit from what they do. To find out more about the RAISE Family Caregivers Act and to access free information and resources for family caregivers, please visit