Mimi Lewi

Family caregiving is becoming increasingly common. As of 2022, there are more than 53 million family caregivers in the United States. This is a marked rise from just a few years ago. For example, only about 43.5 million caregivers provided unpaid care to a child or adult in 2015.

There are several contributing factors to these growing numbers, which include:

  • An aging population
  • Rising healthcare costs and a lack of affordable long-term care options
  • Increased instances of chronic illnesses

An aging population

The portion of the U.S. population aged 65 and over has increased significantly over the past few years, rising to 16% in 2021. That number is expected to continue to rise, reaching as much as 20% by 2030.

With people living longer, there is a growing need for caregivers to assist with day-to-day tasks for family members. As individuals age, they may experience physical and cognitive decline, which can make it difficult for them to carry out daily tasks. 

This is where family caregivers come in, providing necessary assistance to maintain the quality of life of their aging loved ones.

Rising healthcare costs

Healthcare costs are on the rise, causing an average of 38% of Americans to put off treatment even for more serious health conditions. Family caregivers can help alleviate some of the financial burdens on families.

By providing care at home, they can reduce the need for expensive hospital stays, rehabilitation centers, or long-term care facilities.

Increased instances of chronic illnesses

The rise in chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease has increased the need for family caregivers. These illnesses often require ongoing care, which can be challenging for an already overtaxed healthcare system to provide. 

Family members can step in to provide much-needed personalized care that is tailored to the physical, emotional, and social needs of their loved ones. Personalized care can improve the quality of life for the care recipient and promote their independence and well-being.

Additionally, caregivers can ensure that their loved one’s medical needs are being met, which can help prevent hospitalization or other costly interventions.

What resources are available for family caregivers?

There are several resources caregivers can take advantage of to help ease the financial and emotional burden of caregiving.

Federal programs

There are several federal programs available for family caregivers to receive financial assistance, including Medicaid’s Cash and Counseling Program, which provides funds for the caregiver to use as compensation for their services

Another excellent program is the Veterans Administration’s (VA) Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, which offers financial assistance, training, and support to eligible caregivers of veterans.

State programs

State programs can also provide much-needed financial assistance to family caregivers.

One example is the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) in New York, which allows Medicaid recipients to hire family members or friends to provide care services. The program pays caregivers for their time, which can help offset the financial burden of caregiving.

Another example is the Consumer Directed Services (CDS) program in Missouri, which provides financial assistance to family caregivers who provide care for individuals with disabilities. This program allows caregivers to receive payment for their services and provides funding for necessary supplies and equipment.

Finally, many states offer respite care services that give overworked family caregivers a much-needed break by providing in-home workers or daycare services.

Private organizations and nonprofit groups

Private organizations and nonprofit groups like the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) or the Family Caregiver Alliance provide a wealth of information and resources. Ranging from educational materials to support groups and advocate services, these resources help caregivers navigate the caregiving journey.

Supportive workplace policies

Working caregivers can also take advantage of supportive workplace policies such as:

  • Paid time off
  • Flexible schedules
  • A hybrid workplace (remote and in-person)

In addition, state and federal laws like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offer job protection and time off to eligible caregivers who need to care for a sick loved one. 

Therefore, you need to incorporate these flexible policies and benefits into your healthcare organization to support your employees who may be taking care of loved ones.

Providing fair compensation for family caregiving

Family caregivers play a crucial role in ensuring their loved ones receive the care and support they need. They make tremendous sacrifices in terms of their time, energy, and finances.

Providing adequate compensation for caregivers is not only fair but also a wise investment in our healthcare system. Through compensation, we ensure they can continue to provide outstanding care to their loved ones and prevent costly hospitalizations and institutionalization.

It’s time we acknowledge the increasing significance of long-term care planning for American families and act decisively to address the enormous hardships family caregivers currently face.

Mimi Lewi has over 20 years of experience in finance and payroll taxes. She has been with Empeon since 2010, where she serves as the senior tax compliance manager to ensure the company’s software is in full compliance, and payments are made to the right care agencies at the right frequencies.