This year’s National Family Caregivers Month signifies a crucial turning point in the history of family caregiving policies and awareness. From advancements at the state level to federal initiatives, there’s a growing commitment to addressing the needs of our nation’s 53 million family caregivers.
This positive shift is long overdue. The demands placed on family caregivers continue to escalate, leaving many feeling overwhelmed and lacking support. As one caregiver recently shared with me, “Caregiving can be mentally exhausting, especially when you feel like you’re drowning.”
For far too long, family caregivers have been left to navigate the complexities of care without adequate resources or recognition. This reality stems from decades of underinvestment and a failure to acknowledge the immense value of their contributions.
My personal experiences have profoundly shaped my understanding of care.
Growing up, I witnessed my mother raise three kids while holding a full-time job and caring for my grandmother who battled multiple chronic conditions – a scenario all too common in Latino households across America.
Driven by love, commitment, and necessity, my mother tirelessly balanced her competing responsibilities, often putting herself last. Caregiving shaped our family’s opportunities and instilled in me a deep appreciation for the sacrifices made by sandwich generation caregivers like my mom.
Decades later, as a new parent, I recognize that the policies we advocate for today will profoundly impact my young son’s future.
Family Caregiving Progress
What will his generation say about our actions, priorities, and sense of urgency? I am optimistic that they will view this moment as a turning point in the evolution of caregiving in the U.S.
Over the past year, we have witnessed significant progress:
- The release of the National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers, the first comprehensive roadmap to address the needs of family caregivers across society.
- The launch of the #ActOnRAISE Campaign, which has mobilized over 100 partners at the national and state levels to advance the National Strategy.
- States including Maryland, Oregon, and Colorado passed paid family and medical leave policies.
- The issuance of the most sweeping executive order to date on caregiving, demonstrating a growing commitment at the highest levels of government to addressing this critical issue.
- The allocation of $20 million in new funding from the Administration for Community Living to support the implementation of the National Strategy.
- Bold actions by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to recognize the vital role of family caregivers and direct care workers in delivering quality care.
These developments send a clear message: Change is possible. We are a caregiver nation, 53 million strong, and support for this community is gaining momentum.
As you reflect on National Family Caregivers Month, let us remember that this is our moment, our opportunity, and our responsibility to harness this momentum and champion meaningful change for family caregivers.
Together, we can create a future where caregiving is not a solitary endeavor but a shared responsibility, where caregivers are empowered, valued, and equipped with the resources they need to thrive. Let us seize this opportunity to create a future where caregiving is sustainable, equitable, and dignified.
About the Author:
Jason Resendez is the President and CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving, where he leads research, policy, and innovation initiatives to build health, financial security, and equity for America’s 53 million family caregivers. Careforth is a member of the NAC and partners in the shared effort to advocate for caregivers nationally.
Prior to joining NAC, Jason was the founding executive director of the UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Center for Brain Health Equity and was the principal investigator of a Healthy Brain Initiative cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While at UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, Jason pioneered the concept of Brain Health Equity through peer-reviewed research, community partnerships, and public policy.
His efforts to champion health and racial justice for patients and caregivers have earned national recognition and in 2023, he was named one of the most consequential leaders in health, science, and medicine by STAT News. In 2020, Jason was named one of America’s top influencers in aging by PBS’s Next Avenue alongside Michael J. Fox and Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. Jason has received the National Hispanic Council on Aging’s (NHCOA) Award for Caregiving, the LULAC Presidential Medal of Honor, and the HerMANO Award from MANA—A National Latina Organization—for his advocacy on behalf of the Latino community.
Learn about Jason’s research here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jason-Resendez/research
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