Report Briefing: Families Caring for an Aging America WebEx
Millions of Americans are providing care and support to an older adult—a parent, spouse, friend, or neighbor—who needs help because of a limitation in their physical, mental, or cognitive functioning. For decades, demographers, gerontologists, health researchers and providers, economists, and other experts have raised concerns about the rapid aging of our population and its implications for the health care system; Social Security; and local, state, and federal resources. Far less attention has been given to family caregivers who provide the lion's share of long-term services and supports (LTSS) to our older adult population. Many are unaware that today, some family caregivers are expected to provide complex health care services once only delivered by licensed health care personnel in a hospital or other setting.
At least 17.7 million individuals in the United States are family caregivers of someone age 65 and older who has a significant impairment. The circumstances of individual caregivers are extremely varied. They may live with, nearby, or far away from the person receiving care. The care they provide may be episodic, daily, occasional, or of short or long duration. The caregiver may help with household tasks or self-care activities, such as getting in and out of bed, bathing, dressing, eating, or toileting, or may provide complex medical care tasks, such as managing medications and giving injections. The older adult may have dementia and require a caregiver's constant supervision. Or, the caregiver may be responsible for all of these activities.
With support from 15 sponsors, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened an expert committee to examine what is known about the nation's family caregivers of older adults and to recommend policies to address their needs and help to minimize the barriers they encounter in acting on behalf of an older adult. The resulting report, Families Caring for an Aging America, provides an overview of the prevalence and nature of family caregiving of older adults as well as its personal impact on caregivers' health, economic security, and overall well-being. The report also examines the available evidence on the effectiveness of programs and interventions designed to support family caregivers. It concludes with recommendations for developing a national strategy to effectively engage and support them.
Committee Members in attendance:
Ladson Hinton, M.D.
Karen Schumacher, Ph.D., R.N.
Jennifer Wolff, Ph.D.
A recording of the public webinar can be accessed here.