Earlier this week, I watched AARP’s forum, The Challenges of Family Caregiving: What Needs to be Done? via webcast. Sitting in front of my computer in Arizona, I watched the speakers discuss their caregiving experiences and their recommendations for program and policy improvements to support more than 40 million family caregivers in the U.S. The 10 speakers were authors of books about caregiving and experts in their fields, but first and foremost, they are – or have been – family caregivers themselves. That’s why their comments resonated so much for me.
If you missed the live event, you can still watch an archived webcast of the forum online! Or, if you just want a quick summary, here are the key points that the presenters made:
- To raise awareness, it’s important for caregivers to be open and honest about what we are going through – the challenges, emotions and needs we have (that’s what I try to do with this blog.)
- To really affect policy and program improvements, family caregivers need to be a concerted voice – an organized social movement. But we caregivers are tired! We’re overwhelmed with our responsibilities, so it’s difficult to activate and organize us.
- Communication between doctors and family members and among family members needs to be improved.
- Caregiving is a role and relationship, but it’s also our job. I love this one – it’s something I’m constantly telling people. It really is a job (whether full-time or part time) and many of us are thrown into it with no training.
- Speakers’ recommendations included: allow flexible medical savings accounts to be used for eldercare; begin hospital discharge planning at admission – not an hour before discharge; create a national council of family caregivers and work to “normalize” family caregiving (I’d love to serve on that council!)
Watch the webcast and let me know what points resonated for you – I’d love to hear your thoughts!