Members of Congress Celebrate Family Caregivers
November 24, 2015 02:42 PM
In addition to being Home Care and Hospice Month, November is National Family Caregivers Month. On Friday, November 20, four bipartisan members of Congress from both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives sent a letter to their colleagues asking them to join in support of celebrating family caregivers. The lawmakers also asked their congressional colleagues to join the Assisting Caregivers Today Caucus, which the four members launched earlier this year (see previous NAHC Report article here). The four members are Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), Representative Diane Black (R-TN-6), and Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham.
“Many of us have been, are, or will be a family caregiver at some point in our lives,” the members of Congress wrote in the letter. “Additionally, in the future, some of us may need the help of a loved one in order to live independently in our homes and communities. Every day, constituents and families in our states and districts are helping provide care to and assisting their loved ones.”
The lawmakers also embraced the theme of this year’s National Family Caregiver Month, “Respite: Care for Caregivers.” They wrote: “Respite—the ability for family caregivers to take a breather and re-energize—is critical to a caregiver’s well-being. It has been documented that caregivers are at an increased risk for health issues due to chronic stress. Since respite can better protect the caregiver’s health, strengthen family relationships, and prevent burn out, it is a key component to family caregiving. In fact, respite can have the ability to allow a loved one to remain in their home for a long amount of time.”
Earlier this year, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) joined with other organizations in expressing its support for the Assisting Caregivers Caucus. “We are pleased the ACT Caucus will bring greater visibility to the value of and need to support family caregivers, as well as the challenges and opportunities individuals of all ages face as they seek to live independently,” NAHC and the other organizations wrote. “We appreciate that the caucus aims to inform Members of the House and Senate about these issues, elevate the conversation, forge an environment and context conducive to reaching bipartisan solutions, and help create a sense of urgency to act.”
NAHC has proposed several recommendations to Congress regarding caregiver support: 1) Establish a national, comprehensive long-term care program; 2) Provide respite care services to enable caregivers to be temporarily relieved of their responsibilities; 3) Provide tax incentives for family members to provide care for a family member, in order to encourage the utilization of cost-effective home care services rather than costly institutional care.
The letter from the members of Congress is available here.