At an AARP-sponsored forum on the challenges of family caregiving a recurring theme was the discrepancy between the huge numbers of people currently providing care to seniors and disabled persons versus the invisibility of them. How could it be that in the neighborhood of 50 million people who provide daily care to loved ones go unnoticed by corporations and government policy makers? Yet when we look at the policies at most employers, there is little support for caregivers. Most don’t permit flexible schedules for caregivers; they don’t allow parents to be on health care plans, and they don’t provide support groups for employees who are active caregivers.
What we need in this country is an “Occupy Eldercare” movement.

We need for these caregivers to speak out and change government and corporate rules and regulations. We need hospitals to pay greater attention to the needs of the caregivers, not just to the patients. We need for caregivers to be a part of the patient’s health record so they can know about and be prepared for the care needed. We need for hospitals to provide greater assistance to patients about to be released. Most aging is slow, more a chronic-type condition rather than acute. Yet our medical insurance system does not cover this type of care. We need our society to provide more financial options to people who need care, not just to those who need medical care.

Planning ahead for the coming problems is always an important way to minimize the impact of the problem. When you feel you have everything organized you tend to feel less stress. Yet we don’t seem to provide much help to our citizens until the crisis occurs. By then it’s often too late. What are you supposed to do when the hospital discharge person (sometimes called the “bouncer”) announces to you that your mother is going to be released from the hospital tomorrow and you know you don’t have the support system set up to provide the care she needs? We need greater educational resources and we need it early on.

We need for caregivers to not be invisible. Yes, we need an Occupy Eldercare movement. Want to join? Visit my Facebook page and “like” my eldercare posting. Then let’s see how many of you come out of the closet and start changing the world.




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