You know – or maybe you are – one of our nation’s dedicated family caregivers.
An estimated 40 million Americans and 300,000 West Virginians are working regularly to provide at-home care for their parents, spouses, children or other adults with disabilities. Some days they help their loved ones eat, bathe and dress. Other days it might be taking them to the doctor or shopping for their groceries or other needs. For many, these volunteer duties also include managing finances and helping to make all the other decisions that allow their loved one to continue to live independently.
Many of these patients might otherwise be in an expensive nursing-home setting – which we as taxpayers help fund through Medicare and Medicaid – and this unpaid care is valued at around $470 billion annually, according to the AARP, which deserves much of the credit for putting the issue on the national agenda.
So, what are we doing to support these caregivers? Until now, not a whole lot.
But the passage of the RAISE (Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage) Family Caregivers Act by Congress last week could take some important steps to change that. The bill now goes to President Donald Trump for approval.