The California Family Caregiver is all of us. The reality of elder care in the United States is that you may be called upon to be a family caregiver, responsible for providing care to aging parents or other disabled loved ones.
Currently, there are an estimated 4.5 million caregivers in the state of California. Family caregivers are spouses, partners, adult children, other relatives, friends, or neighbors of adults with illness or disabilities. Caregivers are disproportionately female (53-60%), typically middle-aged (the average age is 49), but currently 1 in 4 caregivers are Millennials.
The older adult population in California is increasing rapidly: it is estimated that by 2030 nearly one-fifth of California’s population will be over age 65 and therefore it is projected that a higher proportion of Californians will become family caregivers. The diverse nature of California residents mean that caregivers are coming from a variety of backgrounds, speaking different languages and operating with different cultural norms. It is no small task to provide resources and aid to this highly diverse group – but the California Caregiver Resource Centers and other organizations are working hard to support all caregivers.
The California Task Force on Family Caregiving says, “Caregivers provide billions of dollars in care each year, care that allows individuals with a disability and older adults to remain in the community, often at a personal cost. They are the cornerstone of California’s long-term supports and services system.” The Task Force made the following recommendations to the state of California and are working to implement and support California caregivers:
- Support the financial wellbeing of family caregivers, and limit the extent to which this role contributes to an increased risk of poverty and long-term financial insecurity.
- Learn about caregivers and their needs to improve services.
- Equip caregivers with easily accessible information, education, and training that is specific to their situation, and is provided in culturally competent and relevant ways.
- Increase access to affordable caregiver services and supports, including respite care that allows caregivers to take a break.
- Integrate family caregivers into hospital processes, support them in navigating care transitions and with providing complex care tasks, and increase caregiver choice in whether to complete complex care tasks.
Our goal at the California Resource Centers is to help caregivers perform their role with as few challenges as possible. There are many complications involved in providing end of life care: financial pressures, legal quandaries, health problems, and emotional turmoil. There are resources available to every resident in California and we are on your side! Overall, the Task Force found that California does have a flexible and dedicated network of caregiver support services, but there is more work to be done by the state of California to truly support caregivers.
At the Caregiver Resource Center, we wholeheartedly support these recommendations, because with these changes in place, the CRC will be better able to provide caregivers with the additional support they need.
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