Addressing the Needs of Caregivers at Risk: A New Policy Strategy

Principal Investigator(s)

Everette James, JD, MBA, Meredith Hughes, and Philip Rocco, PhD

Every day in the United States, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65. With this dramatic increase in the aging population, a growing number of Americans that want to age in place at home will have limited ability to care for themselves due to chronic conditions, trauma, or illnesses as well as inadequate personal savings. Family and friends provide the vast majority of care to this population. Caregivers are largely uncompensated for the work they do, untrained to perform complex care tasks, and are shouldering an increasing number of economic and health risks. To understand the extent to which public policy in the United States currently recognizes and responds to caregiver needs, this report surveys potential federal and state policy levers that exist to address three key goals: (1) alleviating financial hardships for caregivers; (2) promoting flexible employment for caregivers; and (3) providing services and supports to caregivers. Our analysis revealed that the existing landscape of caregiver policies is a patchwork of small, uncoordinated programs that do not yet meet the current and future needs of this population. Whereas caregivers provide over 90 percent of the long-term care received by 12 million Americans, their access to financial support, flexible employment and social supports that would facilitate and enhance the care they provide is highly limited. However, there are numerous policy options on the agenda that could meaningfully address caregiver needs. A comprehensive program that includes these elements could improve significantly on policy proposals currently under consideration in Congress.

To read the report, click here.