Lynn Friss Feinberg, MSW, is a senior strategic policy advisor for the AARP Public Policy Institute. She has conducted policy analysis and applied research on family caregiving and long-term services and supports for more than 30 years.

What’s Different About Family Caregiving Today?

This is a pivotal time. Converging sociodemographic trends and more complex care needs are contributing to historically unprecedented challenges in family care of older people in the U.S. For most of human history, requiring help in old age was uncommon. As Atul Gawande writes in Being Mortal, “The natural course was to die before old age.” Only 41 percent of people born in 1900 survived to age 65. In sharp contrast, an estimated 84 percent of people born in 2010 …

Adult Day Services: A Model of Person- and Family-Centered Care

A recent study found that more than a quarter million participants attend an estimated 4,800 community-based adult day service (ADS) centers in the U.S. Although most participants are older people, more than one-third of ADS participants are younger than 65. Nearly one in three ADS participants has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. ADS centers provide coordinated and reliable services and supports. Services for participants include social activities, meals, personal care (such as help with toileting), a limited array …

States Move to Support Working Family Caregivers

Juggling work and family caregiving responsibilities is stressful, even overwhelming, because most workplaces aren’t “caregiver friendly.” I hear this all the time from my friends and colleagues who care for aging parents. Public policies can help working caregivers better manage their responsibilities so that they don’t have to choose between work and family caregiving. One way states can help is by providing legal protections from employment discrimination due to caregiving status. States can also expand access to paid sick days …

Family Caregiving: There’s Nothing Informal About It

It’s time to banish the word “informal” when referring to the care provided by family members and friends. It devalues their essential contributions and fails to capture the complexity of what they do. Family caregivers usually are not paid for the help they provide their loved ones. For this reason, some describe them as “informal” caregivers. Yet family members, partners, friends and neighbors are the mainstay of support for older people who need help to carry out their daily activities, …

Setting the Pace for Identifying Family Caregiver Needs in Home- and Community-Based Services

The times, they are a-changing. Consumers and their family members are applauding a final rule for Medicaid home- and community-based services (HCBS) programs released last month by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). For the first time, CMS has formally recognized the importance of assessing the needs of family caregivers through new requirements for “person-centered care planning.” This is a huge step forward. Because family caregivers are a core part of health care and long-term care, experts have …

Easing the Burdens on Family Caregivers: Are We Listening to Their Needs?

Family caregivers wear many hats. They help their loved ones cope with the bewildering complexity and fragmentation of the long-term services and supports (LTSS) system. They often provide daily care, such as help with bathing or dressing, providing transportation to medical appointments, handling bills, preparing special diets, or managing multiple complex medications. They often do these tasks on top of other work and family responsibilities. But who is listening to them? How are they coping? It is time to think …