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New AARP Poll: Voters Want More Support from Congress for Family Caregivers

75 percent of voters 50+ say it is important for elected officials to help older Americans stay in their own homes

spinner image a group of diverse people wearing buttons that say vote and two sets of arms and hands holding with a heart in the palms to symbolize caregiving
Getty Images/AARP

Heads up, Congress: A new AARP poll finds that when voters 50 and older gear up for future elections, how candidates address their concerns about key family caregiving issues will greatly influence their vote.

The survey found that a majority of voters — 70 percent — say they are more likely to support a candidate who backs proposals to support family caregivers, such as tax credits, paid family leave and respite services. An overwhelming 75 percent of voters 50-plus want to be able to stay in their homes as they age, and say it is important for Congress to help older Americans live independently in their homes instead of in a nursing facility. These concerns are expressed in similar numbers among Democrats and Republicans.

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“Family caregivers are the backbone of a broken long-term care system, providing $600 billion in unpaid labor each year and saving taxpayers billions,” says Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer. “It is long past time for lawmakers to enact commonsense solutions that support family caregivers and help older Americans live independently in their homes, where they want to be.” 

The AARP poll was conducted by a bipartisan team of pollsters who surveyed 1,425 registered voters, with oversamples of voters age 50+, Black voters, Latino voters, Asian American/Pacific Islander voters and family caregivers. The survey was conducted by phone and text-to-web from April 4-10, 2023, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

“It’s no surprise that voters prioritize issues that have played big roles in recent elections and will again in 2024, like protecting social security and Medicare and lowering prescription drug prices,” says Matt Hogan, Democratic pollster and partner at Impact Research. Hogan conducted the poll along with Bob Ward, a GOP pollster and partner at Fabrizio Ward. “What may come as surprise to many is that voters prioritize helping seniors live independently at home and supporting family caregivers at a level higher than some issues that tend to command more of the media spotlight, such as investing in clean energy and student loan debt.”

spinner image What family caregivers are feeling due to their added responsibilities. 72% are emotionally stressed. 60% are feeling overwhelmed by their caregiving responsibilities, 64% feel pressure balancing with their other family needs, and 55% feel financial strain.

Ward says the reason why is simple: “More than three-quarters of voters are either currently, have been, or expect to be a caregiver for an aging loved one. There is a real opportunity for candidate on both sides of the aisle to feature home care and family caregiver support in their campaigns and get the upper hand on these high-priority issues.”

The over 45 million voters who provide unpaid care to an aging, sick or disabled loved one or friend are an important constituency and they want their voices heard. While for many the work is a labor of love — 40 percent spend more than 20 hours a week assisting with everything from driving a family member or friend to appointments to managing medical claims to providing hands-on assistance — it comes with much pressure. The majority of caregivers surveyed say they are stretched thin emotionally (72 percent) and financially (55 percent), with 60 percent saying they are “overwhelmed” by the additional responsibility.

That stress is especially felt in the Black and Latino caregiving communities, the poll found. Black voters, women, Democrats and Latinos are especially likely to see long-term care and support for caregivers as key issues.

The primary reason for this, says Ward, is “financial strain. Both Black and Latino voters express a higher degree of having quit or reduce hours for a job as result of caregiving responsibilities. And when asked what type of help they want, they disproportionately say financial support to help cover their expenses.”

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Another big fear: Voters who are family caregivers now worry that they will not be able to get the care they need as they age. The biggest issue is affordability of care, with 44 percent concerned that they won’t have enough money saved to afford the care they need.

spinner image Over 70% of voters say they are more likely to support a candidate who backs family caregiving proposals such as paid family leave (76%), tax credits (76%), and support and respite services (735).

AARP is calling on state and federal lawmakers to:

  • Provide eligible family caregivers with financial relief to help cover some of their costs for caring for a loved one.  
  • Provide eligible family caregivers with financial relief to help cover some of their costs for caring for a loved one. 
  • Provide paid family leave so family caregivers can care for loved ones without losing their job or salary.
  • Expand access to family caregiver support and respite services to allow family caregivers to take a break that would help prevent burnout and allow them to keep caring for their loved ones.
  • Expand services to help seniors remain in their homes as they age.

“Seniors have always been a key voter group, but especially in recent elections, 2020 and 2022, not only have they shown up in great numbers, they have been a swing voter group. They listen to politicians and campaign more so than other voters,” says Ward. “Elected officials that fail to realize this do so at their peril. Smart campaigns will be talking about issues like supporting family caregiving so family can age at home where they want to be, because the issue is so important to senior voters.”

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