AARP research reveals emotional toll of family caregiving
LINCOLN, Neb. (Press Release) - The financial and emotional strain of unpaid family caregiving is pressing down hard on many Nebraska residents, according to new research released by AARP.
The study finds that family caregivers often struggle to provide quality care to their loved ones without sacrificing their own health and financial security.
In a survey of registered voters age 50 plus in Nebraska, 42% of those responding said they either are currently a family caregiver or have been in the past. Furthermore, 53% report feeling stressed emotionally due to their caregiving responsibilities, while 29% report experiencing financial strain, as well.
Additionally, about half said the pandemic increased their level of emotional strain and more than a quarter said they spent more time and money on caregiving due to the pandemic.
Nebraska’s 240,000 family caregivers contribute more than 199 million hours of unpaid care each year, valued at approximately $2.9 billion.
”Family caregivers are the front line of defense to keep their loved ones at home where they want to be,” said Todd Stubbendieck, state director of AARP Nebraska, which serves nearly 200,000 members age 50 and older in the state. “We know that caring for mom, dad or other loved ones can be expensive, stressful, and isolating.”
Family caregivers help their loved ones with medications and medical care, meals, bathing and dressing, chores and much more, making it possible for them to live independently at home. Many caregivers hold down full- or part-time paid jobs, and for some, their caregiving responsibilities have them on call 24/7.
Among the financial expenses Nebraska’s caregivers have incurred to help care for a loved one, AARP’s research shows 30% are paying for modifications to their or their loved one’s home and 44% are buying assistive technology such as a wheelchair, hearing devices and vision aids.
”When family caregivers keep their loved ones out of nursing homes, it saves Nebraska taxpayers money, since nursing home care is mostly paid for by the state and federal government, through Medicaid,” said Stubbendieck. “We can help with some basic support and commonsense solutions, such as help at home, flexibility at work and financial tools to make their big responsibilities a little bit easier.”
AARP’s survey found that Nebraska 50-plus voters broadly support policies to assist family caregivers, including the following:
- Eight in 10 (81%) voters support requiring employers to provide limited unpaid leave to employee caregivers and prohibiting their firing for taking caregiving time off (82%).
- Eight in 10 (79%) voters also support increasing funding for the respite care program which provides short-term help from a home health aide or adult day care program so family caregivers can take a break.
- Seven in 10 (73%) support requiring employers to provide some paid leave to all employees that can be used for family caregiving.
The Nebraska Legislature is currently considering LB 290 to create the Nebraska Paid Family Leave and Medical Leave Insurance Fund. LB 290, introduced by Sen. Michaela Cavanaugh and endorsed by AARP Nebraska, would ensure working caregivers are not forced to take unpaid leave or place their loved ones in taxpayer supported nursing homes to get the care they need.
The full survey report is available HERE.
The AARP telephone survey was conducted among 1,000 registered voters ages 50 plus in Nebraska. Forty percent of the respondents were reached on a mobile phone. The survey was administered by American Direction Research Group for AARP between October 4, 2021 and October 23, 2021.
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