The Clock is Ticking to Implement a New Law Helping America’s Caregiving Families

AARP led a group of 75 organizations yesterday, calling on Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar to implement the bipartisan Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act. In a RAISE Family Caregivers Act HHS Implementation Group Letter June 2018 Final , the organizations write, “Millions of individuals count on family caregivers every day. Family caregivers are counting on implementation of this commonsense law.”

The RAISE Family Caregivers Act, which passed Congress with overwhelming support and was signed into law by President Trump on January 22, requires the Secretary of HHS to develop a strategy to support family caregivers within 18 months of the law’s enactment – the clock started ticking five months ago.

According to the new law, the Secretary must:

  • Establish an advisory council of representatives from both the private and public sectors to advise and make recommendations for the strategy.
  • Identify as part of the strategy recommended actions that communities, providers, government, and others are taking and may take to make it easier to coordinate care for a loved one, get information, referrals and resources, and improve respite options so family caregivers can reset and recharge, among other areas.

Every day, more than 40 million Americans help aging parents, spouses, and other relatives and friends manage chronic conditions and disabilities so their loved ones can live independently in their homes and communities for as long as possible. About 3.7 million family caregivers provide care to a child under age 18 who have medical, behavioral, or other condition or disability, and 6.5 million family caregivers assist both adults and children They manage medications, help with bathing and dressing, prepare and feed meals, arrange transportation to medical appointments (or do the driving themselves), handle financial and legal matters and much, much more. Many do all of this while working full time and raising families.

Family caregivers are the backbone of our care system in this country. The unpaid care family caregivers provide — a staggering  37 billion hours valued at about  $470 billion annually — helps delay or prevent more costly care and unnecessary hospitalizations, saving taxpayer dollars.

Once implemented, the RAISE Family Caregivers Act will:

  • Help improve the collection and sharing of information, including information related to evidence-based or promising practices and innovative models regarding family caregiving.
  • Better coordinate, assess, maximize the effectiveness, and avoid unnecessary duplication of existing federal government activities to recognize and support family caregivers.
  • Inform state and local efforts to support family caregivers.

Jennifer, who cares for her elderly mother with dementia, Yoko, demonstrates the importance of this new law and its enactment. “Taking care of Mom is a full-time job, including getting up several times a night to help her walk to the bathroom. This has been a challenge since I no longer get a full night’s rest. During the day, I’m responsible for broad duties such as her finances and healthcare decisions, as well as everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning, and medication management.”

Family caregivers, like Jennifer, take on huge responsibilities every day, and the RAISE Family Caregivers Act is one way to help make their lives a little bit easier.

On behalf of America’s more than 40 million family caregivers—and the loved ones who count on them—AARP urges Secretary Alex Azar to promptly implement the RAISE Family Caregivers Act. Family caregivers need support today.

Nancy LeaMond is AARP chief advocacy and engagement officer. She leads the organization’s Communities, State and National Group, including government relations, advocacy and public education for AARP’s social change agenda. LeaMond also has responsibility for AARP’s state operation, which includes offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
You can follow her on Twitter @NancyLeaMond.

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.