The resolution was brief, but it was to the point and full of powerful statistics. “Be it resolved,” SCR 13 began. For the first time in Alaska history, both formal and informal caregivers were recognized for the importance they give.
Alaska’s senior population is burgeoning. Residents age 65 and older are expected to increase in the next 20 years by 155 percent and the number of residents age 85 and older are projected to reach 12,476 by the year 2030. The Resolution’s authors recognized the 96,800 adults in Alaska who provide unpaid care to adult relatives or friends and an estimated 1,595 adults provide paid senior care to nonrelatives.
There are 44.4 million American caregivers, which is 21% of the population who provide unpaid care. Sixty-one percent of all caregivers are female; approximately 46 years old with some college experience who spend an average of 20+ hours providing unpaid care. And most family caregivers juggle work with caregiving.
In a study conducted by AARP, family caregivers were asked about their “unmet needs.” Finding time for myself was #1; Keeping the person I care for safe at home was #2; Balancing work and family was #3; and Managing my emotional and physical stress and #4. For caregivers who were juggling work, 57 percent reported they often had to go into work late, leave early or take time off, which added to their stress.
In Alaska, SCR 13 concluded that the Alaska State Legislature should recognize senior caregiving as a profession; support the private home care industry and the efforts of family caregivers statewide by encouraging individuals to provide care to family, friends and neighbors; encourage accessible and affordable care for seniors; and encourages the Department of Health and Social Services to continue to provide additional education on the effects of aging and the importance and availability of senior caregivers to meet personal needs.
For the 96,800 family caregivers who provide unpaid care for loved ones and friends, it’s a recognition long overdue.
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