Families strain to provide care for older loved ones
Results of a survey recently released by AARP Alaska highlight the level of caregiving Alaska families are performing for family members and other loved ones. Commissioned to learn about experiences with and opinions of Alaska voters age 45-plus on family caregiving, the survey found that nearly all (96 percent) respondents who are current or past caregivers say it is important to have services that allow people to stay in their own homes as they age.
The survey results were released at the end of April, with press statements highlighting the key findings:
Alaska family caregivers help their older loved ones with daily activities including shopping (87 percent), meals (86 percent), chores (84 percent), and transportation (82 percent). They also
• Manage medications (69 percent);
• Handle nursing and medical tasks (67 percent);
• Help manage finances (66 percent); and
• Help dress/bathe (49 percent).
AARP Alaska says it commissioned the telephone survey of 800 registered voters age 45 and older to learn about their experiences with family caregiving. The report highlights results from registered voters interviewed between February 24 and March 6, 2014.
According to the survey results, the average Alaska family caregiver is a female, over 55 years old who cares for a loved one age 73. She works either full- or part-time.
Alaskan family caregivers face many challenges while providing care for a loved one, including:
• 69 percent use their own money to provide care;
• 63 percent are stressed emotionally due to caregiving responsibilities;
• 55 percent are stressed trying to balance work and family;
• 50 percent find it hard to get enough rest; and
• 43 percent find it difficult to take care of household responsibilities.
Actions Alaska's caregivers have taken at work to provide care:
• 66 percent go to work early or late or take time off to provide care;
• 39 percent take a leave of absence from their job to provide care;
• 19 percent go from working full-time to part-time; and
• 19 percent give up working entirely.
Caregivers want help
Based on the survey results, AARP Alaska argues that state lawmakers should support bills and policies that will improve support for these caregivers and help make their responsibilities a bit easier.
For instance, the AARP Alaska press statement notes, more than four out of five Alaskan voters age 45 and older support measures in the Caregiver, Advise, Record and Enable (CARE) Act, which will help unpaid family caregivers when their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home. The legislation, which has been signed into law in 14 states, features three key provisions:
• Hospitals should be required to demonstrate medical and nursing tasks to caregivers (95 percent);
• Hospitals should be required to keep caregivers informed of major decisions (91 percent); and
• Hospitals and care facilities should be required to record caregiver information upon admission (81 percent).
Other findings from the survey show that Alaska voters support:
• Community services so family caregivers can take a break (90percent);
• Services to help older Alaskans stay at home (88percent); and
• Resources and training available for family caregivers (78 percent).