More than half the people over 50 in Onondaga County might soon be spending as much as a full-time job caring for sick or invalid relatives. Elderly advocate groups released a study Tuesday that shows caregivers are in crisis.
Tracy Murphy of Syracuse just wants for her 85 year old mother the best, healthiest living experience possible.
"She can spend time in her home that she loves with her friends, and look out her window at her garden. She wants to age in place; we need services to help her do that. "
But she isn't finding the support she needs...and now it's taking over her life.
"I gave up my job for my care-giving responsibilities. I just started a part-time job but I don't think it's going to work because you need such flexible scheduling when you're a caregiver. I've gone through my savings; I've sold pretty much everything, but it was worth it because she sacrificed for me."
State and County Offices on Aging heard similar stories in a dozen public meetings statewide. AARP State President Neal Lane says people need support services, or even just some knowledge, to tackle the growing task of unpaid caregiving.
"People told us they felt alone, isolated and really didn't know where to turn. What they needed was a personal consultation, their words, so that they can understand what supports are there, how that relates to their particular concerns."
RECOMMENDATIONS TO HELP CAREGIVERS
A report: Caregivers in Crisis by AARP and other groups recommends:
- Establish a “Community Care Navigator” program to direct caregivers to available help, support and services for their ailing parents, spouses, loved ones – and themselves.
- Provide adequate funding to the State Office for the Aging for cost-effective non-Medicaid-funded caregiving programs, a $26 million state grant for about 7,000 New Yorkers on waiting lists.
- Train caregivers to perform more medical procedures themselves.
- Strengthen family leave policies to protect workforce productivity.
- Ensure access to competent legal assistance and protect the vulnerable from fraud and exploitation.
- Promote and increase affordable housing options designed to enhance independence.
- Expand successful volunteer services models to provide help and contain costs.
- Encourage direct-care staff recruitment and retention.
The study presented today at the Syracuse Salvation Army ranked New York 48th among states on the support given to caregivers.