Sometimes Family Caregivers Need a Break

mom and pop
My Mom and Pop

Every day for eight years, my Pop provided hands-on care for my mom, who faced a number of physical challenges.  At age 90, Pop was still helping Mom out of bed into her wheelchair, bathing and dressing her, making the meals, and doing the dishes, laundry and anything else that needed to be done. A few times a week, Pop would get out of the house for a trip to the grocery store and a few staples like bread, milk and eggs.  It wasn't that there was always a need, but Pop would drive to and from the store for a change of scenery - and a much-needed break from his 24/7 caregiving responsibilities.  

Pop's experience isn't unique. Today, 42 million family caregivers provide an invaluable resource in caring for their loved ones at home - many on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This labor of love is worth more than $450 billion in unpaid care each year. And because of family caregivers' commitment, millions of older people are able to live at home rather than in costly institutions, like nursing homes.

While family caregivers wouldn't have it any other way, it's a big job - and once in a while, they need a break: That's why respite care programs are so important. 


AARP is fighting to make sure respite care programs - like adult day services or periodic visits in the home - are available in the community.  These programs allow family caregivers to take some time off to recharge, so they have the strength, energy and spirit to carry on.

Improving respite support

Respite care is available to family caregivers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. However, this care varies from state to state.  It might be:

  • offered in-home or in a center setting
  • an informal network of neighbors caring for neighbors
  • a formal program of the state
  • peer-based or multigenerational assistance

 

This year, AARP has been fighting hard in states during the budget process to improve access to each state's unique respite care program, thereby increasing support for family caregivers.

 

  • In Colorado, Missouri and Wyoming, family caregivers will have more access to respite care due to a boost for services provided at home and in the community.
  • In New York, family caregivers who are currently on a waiting list for services will finally receive some relief.

 

Tracy Murphy is one of New York's 4.1 million family caregivers, caring for her mother, Barbara Conway. Watch their story as recently featured by Syracuse.com.

 

 

  • Meanwhile, in Florida, family caregivers who help loved ones with Alzheimer's will have greater opportunity to access a unique respite care program designed specially for those dealing with this disease.

 

And we're still fighting

Some state legislatures haven't ended their sessions yet, so we're still hard at work.  For example, in Rhode Island, AARP is fighting for family caregivers who need access to the state program that provides respite care, and in North Carolina, AARP is fighting to prevent major cuts to home- and community-based services like respite care.

And we'll continue to fight for family caregivers - for the services and supports they need to safely care for their loved ones at home:  respite care, training, workplace protections, financial help and more.

If you are a family caregiver, you're not alone

 

 

 

Search AARP Blogs

Related Posts
December 11, 2018 10:07 AM
In an election year filled with partisanship and political fights, it’s no surprise that many Americans feel that their voices aren’t being heard or that the issues that affect their lives aren’t being addressed. But, many outstanding elected officials work hard every day to make a positive difference for their constituents.  That’s why AARP recognizes state legislators, governors, and other elected officials – from both sides of the aisle – who have stepped up and worked together to write, support, and advance common-sense policies that help older Americans remain in their homes and communities and retire with confidence. AARP is proud to announce our fifth annual bipartisan class of Capitol Caregivers, who fought this year to increase support for family caregivers and their loved ones, along with our fourth annual bipartisan class of Super Savers, who championed policies that enhance retirement security.
December 05, 2018 01:06 PM
Caroline is a mother of two children and a preschool teacher who unexpectedly became a family caregiver for her father after he suffered a major stroke. Her father, Tom, now deceased, lost the use of his right side and his ability to speak. Multiple surgeries and rehabilitation treatments later, he was able to live at home with the help of nurses. But it was up to Caroline to provide daily care, such as overseeing appointments and handling certain nursing responsibilities, like managing his medications. “I became the person my father could rely on more than anyone in the world,” Caroline said. “I became his safe place and his best friend.” In communities across the country, family caregivers like Caroline are caring for older parents, spouses and other loved ones, helping them to remain at home – where they want to be. Their tasks are done out of love and commitment, but are not easy. That’s why AARP is fighting for family caregivers and their loved ones in every state. In 2018, AARP advanced new policies to provide more help at home, flexibility at work, training, relief and more, which will benefit over 30 million family caregivers. Here are a couple highlights:
November 27, 2018 08:55 AM
A few months ago, I wrote a blog about the vital role that transportation options play in what we at AARP call “livable communities” – great places to live for people of all ages. Being able to get around is critical to earn a living, raise a family, contribute and stay connected to your community and enjoy life. And, having alternatives to getting behind the wheel of your own car is particularly important for older adults who want to stay in their homes and communities as they age.