In the October/November 2019 issue of AARP The Magazine, the AARP National Volunteer President, Catherine Alicia Georges, has an article titled, Family Caregivers Deserve Our Help. Ms. Georges is a nurse, a nursing instructor, as well as a caregiver. Her husband battled Parkinson’s Disease for the last 7 years of his life. She was recently named to the Family Caregiving Advisory Council. This is a council created by Congress last year  to make recommendations to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The council is tasked with undertaking research to make recommendations as to effective models of caregiving. What should caregiving look like, what resources and support are necessary, and how can caregiver burnout be prevented or reduced.
Ms. Georges acknowledges that although family caregivers undertake this role as a way to express their love and togetherness with a loved one, caregivers often feel overwhelmed; understandably so. They may be asked to perform medical, nursing and therapeutic tasks with little or no training. Their loved ones may suffer from cognitive, physical and behavioral challenges the caregiver does not expect or understand. The caregiver’s needs are often pushed aside so they can care for their family member. They frequently suffer from emotional and physical overload. They may also be carrying a great financial burden. Perhaps the house needed updated with handicapped bathrooms, perhaps the caregiver quit his or her job, or reduced hours. There may be limited funds for medicine and therapy. Caregiver’s need and deserve respect, support and recognition.
According to Ms. Georges’ article, “millions of family members, friends and neighbors [provide] complex care at home…. It is presumed that every home is a potential hospital and every service that the person needs can be provided by an unpaid family member, with only occasional visits by a primary care provider, nurse or therapist.” [Ms. Georges state she is quoting an AARP report but does not identify the report in her article.]
As a result, Ms. Georges explains, AARP is supporting a tax credit of up to $3,000 for family caregivers. It is not clear from her article whether this is a one-time credit or an annual credit if the caregiving continues for multiple years, as it so often does. She ends her article as follows:
“Please write to me at [Catherine Alicia Georges @ AARP, 601 E. St. NW, Washington, DC, 20049], or email at email@example.com with your caregiving experiences, tips and suggestions. I promise you that we at AARP will read every letter to help shape our thinking—and to inform my work as a member of the Family Caregiving Advisory Council.”
So caregivers, here is your opportunity to be heard and perhaps, make a difference.