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AARP’s Nancy LeaMond, Government Officials Talk Family Caregiving at Politico Live Event
By Andrew Soergel, December 14, 2022 05:08 PM
En español | More than 48 million Americans provide an estimated $470 billion in unpaid care to parents, grandparents and other loved ones each year. We’re working with government officials to make sure they have the support they need to care for others and themselves.
“Family caregivers take on a lot for their loved ones. They manage their loved one’s medications, help with bathing and dressing them, and prepare meals and help with feeding.” Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer, said during an AARP-sponsored Politico Live event Thursday, noting that the average family caregiver faces more than $7,000 in out-of-pocket caregiving costs each year. “It’s a labor of love, to be sure, but the experience can also be expensive, stressful and isolating.”
LeaMond was joined by federal government officials who discussed the state of caregiving in America in 2022, highlighting how prominently caregiving factors into policy discussions today compared with years past — and especially since the onset of COVID-19.
“As someone who’s worked in this space for literally my entire life, decades, it’s been incredible to see the visibility,” said Alison Barkoff, Acting Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging at the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration for Community Living, noting that the pandemic “laid bare the risk of living in a nursing home or other institution versus in your own home” and drove up demand for home- and community-based services.
Despite the recent publicity, many caregiver support conversations have been ongoing for decades, said Meg Kabat, Senior Advisor for Families, Caregivers and Survivors at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Kabat said legislation passed in the mid-2000s directed the VA to start looking into federal support for veteran and military family caregivers, which eventually helped inform national caregiver support discussions beyond the veteran advocacy community. Kabat said the VA quickly found that “supporting the caregiver supports the veteran” and that those who need care benefit from having a caregiver with financial, emotional and systemic support.
“These shouldn’t be partisan issues. We all have constituents who are aging,” said Rep Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), who chairs the Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee on the House Education and Labor Committee.
More recently, AARP has worked with lawmakers to pass bipartisan bills like the RAISE Family Caregivers Act and the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act, which directed additional government resources into exploring ways to make caregivers' lives easier. The RAISE Act, in particular, led to the development of a recently unveiled national caregiving strategy that includes 350 actions the federal government can take to better support America’s caregivers.
Looking ahead, government officials are focused on offering more training to caregivers to make sure they’re equipped to handle all of the responsibilities that come with caring for a loved one, said Meena Seshamani, Director of the federal Center for Medicare. Seshamani says she’s also been active in promoting existing programs that caregivers may not know exist, noting that “there’s a lot of work that’s already going on that sometimes just needs that visibility and that support.”
AARP has spent years advocating for family caregivers across the country. We continue to push federal lawmakers to pass the Credit for Caring Act, which would create a federal tax credit of up to $5,000 to help cover caregivers’ out-of-pocket expenses. We’ve already worked with lawmakers in 45 states and territories to enact CARE Act legislation to support family caregivers in the hospital discharge process. And we continue to fight for paid family and sick leave, expanded home- and community-based services and additional state tax credits and financial support. Our caregiving advocacy map has more information about recent wins at the state level.
Watch a recording of the event.
This post was updated on Jan. 5, 2023.
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