Today, 42 million family caregivers provide an invaluable resource in caring for their loved ones at home — many on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This labor of love is worth more than $450 billion in unpaid care each year. And because of family caregivers’ commitment, millions of older people are able to live at home rather than in costly institutions such as nursing homes.
Family caregivers wouldn’t have it any other way, but it’s a big job — and once in a while, they need a break; that’s why respite care programs are so important.
AARP is fighting to make sure respite care programs — such as adult day services or periodic visits in the home — are available in the community. These programs allow family caregivers to take some time off to recharge so that they have the strength, energy and spirit to carry on.
Improving respite support
Respite care is available to family caregivers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. However, this care varies from state to state. It might be:
- offered in the home or in a center setting
- an informal network of neighbors caring for neighbors
- a formal program of the state
- peer-based or multigenerational assistance
This year AARP has been fighting hard in states during the budget process to improve access to each state’s unique respite care program, thereby increasing support for family caregivers.
- New York increased services provided at home and in the community to support family caregivers and their older loved ones — including respite care.
- In South Carolina, the state legislature made sure family caregivers get access to a hard-earned break by supporting recurring funding for respite care in the state budget.
- In Utah, the state legislature increased the family caregiver respite program by 23 percent.
- In Wyoming, the state legislature expanded the respite program by more than 10 percent.
And we’re still fighting
AARP will continue to fight in states across the country for family caregivers — for the services and support they need to safely care for their loved ones at home: respite care, training, workplace protections, financial help and more.
If you are a family caregiver, you’re not alone.