At the end of 2021, the RAISE Family Caregiving Advisory Council (a bipartisan group formed to address the growing need for supplementing family caregivers) submitted its initial report. The report includes an introduction to what a family caregiver is and the challenges they face on a daily basis. The report provides multiple recommendations to help support caregivers with five major goals in mind. 

  1. Increase awareness of family caregiving

The most important step in overhauling the resources available to family caregivers is raising public awareness. Most Americans will not know the struggles of elder care until they are in the role. There is much attention placed on child care reform currently, and public pressure is being put on Congress to fix the system. This is now possible due to years of dedicated activists and reformers bringing these issues into the public consciousness. As the number of elderly patients needing care grows rapidly each year, the same public support is now needed for elder care. 

  1. Increased emphasis on integrating caregivers into the medical teams, from which they have been traditionally excluded.

Caregivers have historically been pushed to the side of medical conversations. Personal perspectives can be excluded from doctors’ and nurses’ plans of action due to the disregard of the family caregiver. Teaching doctors the value of family caregivers’ perspectives as well as having easily available certifications ready for caregivers could potentially avoid this issue and give families caring for their elderly loved ones a stronger voice in the medical community.

  1. Increased access to services and support to assist family caregivers.

A recent study in the National Library of Medicine shows that nearly one out of every three caregivers report not having access to one or more unmet supportive needs as they care for elderly family members. With more aging Americans wanting care at home vs. traditional elderly care options, more services will be required to fill the gaps family caregivers face. 

  1. Increased financial and workplace protections for caregivers.

An estimated $7,242 is paid out of pocket annually by family caregivers, and that number continues to rise. Only 10 states offer some form of paid family medical leave for Americans as they provide care for elderly loved ones. New streams of government funds and worker protections are needed to ensure family caregivers can provide proper care without disrupting their lives even further. 

  1. Better and more consistent research and data collection. 

The issues family caregivers face today will only get worse with time. According to the 2020 census, the number of people aged 65 and older has grown from 3.1 million in 1900 to 35 million in 2000. And due to the increased life expectancy of those over 65, it’s projected that by the year 2034, older adults are set to outnumber children under the age of 18 for the first time in U.S history. As medical capabilities continue to advance, our country will need to take drastic steps to address this demographic shift and the caregiving needs of the ever-growing elderly care industry. 

It’s clear that more is needed now for family caregivers, and the RAISE committee’s report shows a well-informed list of needs and goals that will hopefully transform the role of caregiving and fill in the needs of those caring for their elderly loved ones. You can see the full report here

For help with your family caregiving needs, please join our community at Connected Caregiver where we are dedicated to providing information and resources to help you in your caregiving journey.