Study: family caregivers urgently need support

The issues affecting family caregivers are often ignored. And according to the authors of a new study on the issue that needs to change.

As caregivers dedicate more and more of their time and energy to family responsibilities, they end up putting their own health and finances in jeopardy.

The study by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine notes that while almost 18 million Americans care for a relative 65 and older, there are few resources to support them in this important role.

Highlights from the report include:

  • People helping elderly family members with three or more personal tasks per day devote 253 hours a month to caregiving (the rough equivalent of two full-time jobs)
  • Five years is the median duration that family members care for high-need older adults
  • People who care for others often drop out of the workforce or accept a less demanding job

A quote from the report captures for me a central conundrum at the heart of this issue: “If their needs are not recognized and addressed, family caregivers risk burnout from the prolonged distress and physical demands of caregiving, and the nation will bear the costs,”

As an elder law attorney I see clients grappling with these frustrations and challenges frequently as they care for their increasingly frail parents.

The sooner that the issue of family care is supported by public policy the better. The health and financial welfare challenges they face is a burden that has to be supported by the government far sooner than later. A look at the increasing number of boomer seniors provides all the rationale needed.

If you are struggling with late life care challenges, consulting an elder law attorney may be the best way to mitigate the situation and preserve your sanity – even as we protect the dignity of your loved one.