Bicameral, Bipartisan Caucus will Help Bring Attention to Family Caregivers
Coloradan Takes Part in Kick-off
Washington D.C. - Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and U.S. Representatives Diane Black (R-TN) and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) announced the formation of the Assisting Caregivers Today (ACT) Caucus. The caucus will provide education about family caregivers and ways to support people living independently. It will also engage with Congress to advocate for action on these important issues. The lawmakers have been actively working with AARP and family caregivers from across the nation to launch today's caucus.
"The reality is that most of us will act as a family caregiver or need care at some point in our lifetimes," Bennet said. "Family caregivers are providing billions of hours of unpaid care, to ensure that loved ones can perform daily activities and continue living independently. As the population continues to age the need for family care will only increase, adding to the physical, emotional, and financial stress on caregivers. We hope that the creation of this caucus will raise awareness and result in policy that supports these caregivers."
As a result of physical limitations or cognitive impairments, a growing number of Americans require assistance with tasks like eating, dressing, bathing, and traveling. Many rely on friends or family caregivers to provide these services and coordinate care, resulting in about 42 million care givers providing more than 40 billion hours of unpaid care. Family caregivers are providing more than 90 percent of the services that enable individuals to avoid living in nursing homes. The estimated economic value of these unpaid contributions was $450 billion in 2009.
Family caregiver Don Schierling of Denver, a retired teacher, community organizer, and banker, spoke at today's announcement about caring for his wife of 50 years Elvira. Schierling has been caring for his wife for two years since she developed dementia and can no longer drive, handle personal finance or other everyday responsibilities, or be alone for more than an hour. He discussed the challenges he faces in the shifting nature of his relationship with his wife and the transition of taking on the responsibility of caregiver.
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