Part 1 of 2
Caring for a loved one with a condition or disability is one of life's greatest challenges (no pay, no glory, and immense stress). And yet 1 in 5 of us is doing so. 1 in 5!
Our country's reliance on unpaid family caregivers is hugely problematic. 90% of long term care is provided by unsuspecting and inexperienced family members. Now more than ever, it's time to take steps toward improving the caregiving infrastructure for families. Here's why:
1. Large and worsening problem
We're approaching an unprecedented moment in time. Our aging cohort is the largest in our country's history. This group will live longer than ever before and with more conditions than ever before. Additionally, professional aged adults, for the first time, live states apart from their aging relatives, which makes it harder than ever to manage care. This is all compounded by the fact that healthcare (insurance, providers, long term care options) are more complex, fragmented, and opaque than they’ve ever been.
2. Healthcare costs are out of control
The majority of our nearly $3 trillion healthcare spending goes toward taking care of our country's heaviest healthcare utilizers. These heavy utilizers, our oldest and sickest citizens, require a robust support system to help manage their day-to-day and proactively prevent further utilization.
3. This is a women's issue
Majority of unpaid family caregivers are women. These women quietly take on the burden of managing care and struggle to balance that with their own families, careers, and lives. If we want to provide equal pay and equal opportunity to women, we must address the large caregiver obligation which is holding some women back.
4. Our country's status
Mahatma Gandhi said, "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." By supporting our caregivers, we're ensuring better lives for our most vulnerable citizens. The U.S. government should recognize and support family caregivers for the incredible work they're doing. It's up to the next administration to shift focus to both improve long term care and solve the caregiving crisis in America.
Next week, we'll share our 4 solutions to this looming crisis.