Shouting from the Bottom of the Well
While we wait for federal changes to government-funded programs, our family caregivers continue to bear the heavy burden of daily care. It’s a Catch-22 really. Rarely do family members have the luxury of walking away from painful situations just because ‘the system’ let them down. Insurance, governments, and care providers point fingers at one and another as the weakest link that fails our most vulnerable every day.
Rarely do we pay family members for nursing, homemaking, personal care, respite, transportation, home modifications…should I go on? Most family caregivers find the system too frustrating and time-consuming to engage. In fact, a very small percentage receive subsidized services. Waiting lists for needs-based services continue to grow as state government income dries up during this pandemic economy. No money coming in means fewer slots for services.
What Caregivers Need Right Now
The Rosalyn Carter Foundation conducted a family caregiver study. Here are their conclusions:
• Increased access to peer support. In light of the increased social isolation being experienced by caregivers, this is needed now more than ever. Access to peer support could be increased through the continued development and promotion of remote caregiver support groups, support services that are inclusive of auxiliary caregivers, and programs that train and support peer specialist counselors for caregivers.
• Creating more comprehensive virtual community-building resources for caregivers to combat isolation and perceived loneliness. This would potentially further empower caregivers to seek help and additional support and would aid in the organization of community-based caregiver advocacy groups.
• Increased awareness, access, and availability to respite options. Additionally, formal in-person respite services could be supplemented with virtual options. Practical support should be increased, including food assistance, supplemental childcare, and educational support, home health workers, and home cleaning services.
Add Your Voice to the Conversation
Fifty-three million of us identify as family caregivers that come from every demographic and ethnic group. We live in every community; many are your neighbors right now. This pandemic has made a difficult job next to impossible with rising rates of poverty, mental illness, and physical exhaustion.
The caregiving crisis fails to compete with images of abuse and neglected children or abandoned animals that tug at your heartstrings on the television. Our vulnerability lies within us, our families, our work lives, and our communities that don’t make the news except when the very worse has happened. Join our movement #RAISEcaregiving. Thank you.