Who Will Care for the Caregivers?

March 23, 2021

Who Will Care for the Caregivers?

May 29, 2023

The demographics of our world are shifting. This is nowhere more evident than in the rise of caregiving in families. In the last five years, the National Alliance for Caregiving found that nine and a half million people in the US alone have become carers providing unpaid care to another adult. This growth trend shows no sign of slowing.

54 million Americans are now unpaid caregivers. This is the largest healthcare workforce in the nation.

It is also a workforce that goes largely unseen, untrained and (inevitably) unpaid. In conversation with caregiving professional, researcher and author Denise Brown, I came face-to-face with this growing challenge that requires decisive and specific action. She proposes a three step plan:

First, Denise suggests we need to train and certify family healthcare givers providing them with the tools they need to effectively care for their family members and themselves.

Second, we need to help caregivers understand their work as a business. A business that has a budget, staff, costs and results that need to be tracked as well as skills that can be transferred to running other businesses once their caring duties are finished. Where families have assets to transfer and inherit, Denise suggests that the costs and time borne by caregivers while running these businesses need to be counted and recognized. Denise told me that, ‘People not involved in caregiving have no idea how expensive it is.’ This is an awareness we need to have.

Last, and perhaps most importantly, at a national level we need to recognize caregiving as a critical societal service and pay caregivers for their work. Denise suggests that payments received by certified caregivers would generate considerable market impacts that would not only offset their cost but also would offset the risk of caregivers needing to spend all of their resources providing care before they themselves come to an age when they need care.

If you care about anyone, caregiving, directly or indirectly either has been or will be part of your life. One in five Americans is currently providing care to someone (39% of these carers are men and 61% are women). This is not an issue you can afford to ignore. We all need to be concerned, informed and active about the future of caregiving. As caregivers, we need to take the role seriously, professionalize ourselves and understand what we will need to most effectively support our loved ones.

We also need to think care-fully about our own role in providing support to the people in our lives who give care.

How might you and your family create a better care plan that is more equitable for those being cared for and those doing the caring? What might you do to raise consciousness in your community or business on this critical issue?

Here’s a link to my interview with Denise. Her books can be found here. Here’s the National Alliance for Caregiving Resource Page. And, Denise Brown’s Caregiving years training academy.

Jeff Hamaoui is one of the cofounders of MEA and the Chief Education & Innovation Officer.

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