Family caregivers are the backbone of our care system. Today about 40 million family caregivers in the United States help older parents, spouses, aunts, uncles and other adult loved ones live independently at home — where they want to be. Additionally, about 3.7 million family caregivers provide care to a child under age 18 because of a medical, behavioral or other condition or disability. Caregivers help their loved ones while juggling work, raising children and more. Many of them are on call 24/7 and can’t even take a break.
These caregivers have a big job, but some basic support — and commonsense solutions — can help make their big responsibilities a little bit easier. The bicameral, bipartisan Assisting Caregivers Today (ACT) Caucus, launched March 3, 2015, will focus on bringing greater visibility to family caregivers, the challenges and opportunities that individuals of all ages face as they seek to live independently, and the need for solutions.
AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins shared:
“With the launch of this caucus, we finally have a national spotlight we can shine on the value of — and need to support — family caregivers. The fact that this caucus is both bipartisan and bicameral is significant and encouraging. It sends a message that members of Congress recognize that the issues facing family caregivers and the desire to live independently and with dignity are not bound by politics or ideology.”
Chaired by U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and U.S. Reps. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), the caucus aims to inform members of Congress, elevate the conversation, forge an environment and context conducive to reaching bipartisan solutions, and help create a sense of urgency to act. Additionally, the caucus serves as a forum to engage those in the House of Representatives and Senate about family caregiving and living independently, to exchange ideas and to build bipartisan relationships that can lead to solutions.
Caregiving is an ageless issue. Many Americans have been or will be a family caregiver or are likely to need the help of one to live independently in our homes and communities. The caucus engages with and learns from a broad array of stakeholders, such as family caregivers; older adults; persons with disabilities; service providers; the paid workforce; employers; the long-term care insurance industry; private and public payers; local, state and federal officials; researchers; relevant technology innovators; and others.
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