An estimated 65 million family caregivers help their elderly, disabled or ill loved ones continue to live at home – driving them to appointments and assisting with day-to-day needs like bathing, dressing and preparing meals. Few receive recognition, resources or support. But a new law aims to change that.
The Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act calls upon the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop and maintain a strategy that recognizes and supports family caregivers. The strategy will outline how communities, providers and government can assist caregivers. Actions will focus on issues such as respite, education and training, financial security, and workplace policies that support caregivers.
The law allows 18 months for developing the initial strategy and requires annual updates from HHS thereafter.
Family members who serve as caregivers for their loved ones spend an average of 20 hours per week providing essential support, according to “Movement Disorders: Impact and Access to Treatment,” a policy paper of the Movement Disorders Policy Coalition. This support can take a toll on caregivers.
“The demands of caregiving can directly impact the physical, economic, and mental wellbeing of the caregiver,” notes the paper. It also cites that more than half of family caregivers feel overwhelmed by the amount of care family members need, which is precisely the situation the RAISE Family Care Act intends to address.
President Trump signed the RAISE Family Caregiver Act into law on January 24, 2018.