The RAISE Family Caregivers Act

Family Caregivers across the country are helping parents, spouses, children, and adults with disabilities to live more comfortably and independently. They do so much for their loved ones to be able to live at home with families. They help with things such as preparing meals, handling finances, managing medications, dressing, bathing, and other activities of daily living.

This is an enormous job for anyone, but some basic support could make their job easier.

Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine and a Next Avenue Influencer in Aging) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Representatives Greg Harper (R-Miss.) and Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) spearheaded the legislation recently passed by both House and Senate and is being sent to the President to be signed.

What the RAISE Family Caregivers Act Will Do

The RAISE Family Caregivers Act requires the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop, maintain and update an integrated national strategy to support family caregivers. And that support is sorely needed.

“Family caregivers are the backbone of our care system in America. We need to make it easier for them to coordinate care for their loved ones, get information and resources, and take a break so they can rest and recharge,” said Nancy A. LeaMond, AARP’s chief advocacy and engagement officer and a Next Avenue Influencer in Aging.

According to AARP, family caregivers “commonly experience emotional strain and mental health problems, especially depression, and have poorer physical health than non caregivers.” And they rarely receive training in providing care.

Most family caregivers juggle work and caregiving. And 78% of them incur out-of-pocket costs due to caregiving, spending $6,954 a year, on average, according to AARP’s Family Caregiving and Out-of-Pocket Costs: 2016 Report.

 

Goals of a National Family Caregiving Strategy

The goals of the strategy include identifying actions that government, communities, health providers, employers and others can take to support family caregivers, including:

  • Promoting greater adoption of person-centered care and family-centered care in health settings and long-term care settings
  • Training for family caregivers
  • Respite options for family caregivers
  • Ways to increase financial security for family caregivers
  • Workplace policies to help family caregivers keep working
  • Collecting and sharing of information about innovative family caregiving models
  • Assessing federal programs around family caregiving
  • Addressing disparities and meeting the needs of the diverse caregiving population