Durbin Measure To Support Family Caregivers Poised To Become Law

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) held a press conference to highlight his legislation to support family caregivers, which is expected to pass the Senate in the next few weeks as part of the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act. Durbin’s bill will increase funding, training, and support for more than 34 million family caregivers in America.

“On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) came out with a new study, which found that one in five adults in America are unpaid caregivers,” Durbin said. “We must do more to recognize the incredible contribution that caregivers provide to Illinois and the nation.  That’s why I’m pleased to report that the Senate is planning to pass my legislation in the coming weeks, which will increase funding, training, and support for caregivers and the network of senior centers and community organizations that help them.”

Each year, caregivers provide more than $470 billion worth of unpaid care to loved ones with health needs, such as Alzheimer’s. The average caregiver spends $7,000 of their own money every year to provide care, with an average commitment of 24 hours per week. Durbin’s legislation will bolster the nation’s network of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), and enhance support for caregivers through skills building, resources and information, respite care, counseling, and other services.

The Supporting America’s Caregivers and Families Act enhances the ability of AAAs, under the authority of the Older Americans Act, to support caregivers and those they serve by doing the following:

  • Increase funding: Increases the funding authorization level for the National Family Caregiver Support Program (Title III-E of the Older Americans Act) from $160.8 million to $244.8 million.
  • Increase the use of caregiver assessments:  Builds skills and addresses the financial, emotional, and health needs of caregivers by increasing the use of caregiver assessments. Eighty-four percent of caregivers report they could use additional information to provide care to loved ones.  Increasing the use of caregiver assessments will help identify and address the health, financial, training, and skills that caregivers may need.
  • Enhance Partnerships with Health Payers:  Expand the ability of AAAs to receive funding from Medicare and Medicaid to provide case management and other services for seniors, which will increase funding for support services to seniors.

It is estimated that by the year 2030, 73 million—or one in five—people in America will be age 65 or older, which will increase the need for caregivers. At the same time, a growing number of grandparents and older relative caregivers are providing care to young children. Two out of five caregivers report high levels of emotional stress, while six in ten report that their own work has been affected by caregiving.  

The legislation is endorsed by: National Alliance for Caregiving, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).