Wisconsin disability and aging advocates are drawing attention to Family Caregiver Month this November with release of a new video highlighting the increasing challenges and contributions of family caregivers. Watch the trailer for: Wisconsin’s Family Caregiver Crisis: The State’s Invisible Epidemic
An estimated 580,000 informal caregivers in Wisconsin provide more than 490 million unpaid hours of care annually to individuals with disabilities and older adults. Family caregivers help loved ones daily with meals, bathing and dressing, medications, doctor appointments and more.
- One in Five Wisconsinites are Family Caregivers
- 80 percent of all care in Wisconsin is provided by families
- Half of caregivers report cutting back their employment or quitting
- lost income due to family caregiving is estimated to be $522 billion each year nationally
- 85 percent of people needing care say they cannot find workers to help
Aging and disability advocates are asking policymakers to invest now in caregiver supports through the following proposals:
1.Invest in Aging and Disability Resource Center family caregiver supports.
When states invest in targeted supports for family caregivers that sustain caregiver health and extend their ability to provide care, there is a significant return on investment (i.e. 20% reduction in Medicaid funds; Washington Demonstrates Cost Savings and Improved Outcomes from Supporting Family Caregivers, October 2021).
2. Expand Family Medical Leave Policies
Many more Wisconsinites are filling the role of family caregiver and are struggling to maintain their outside employment. Expanded FMLA policies can offer the flexibility a caregiver needs to ensure they can attend necessary meetings and interact with health care providers without fear of losing their job. Grandparents, siblings and others are taking on increasing caregiving roles that save the state money; expanded FMLA helps people with chronic/episodic conditions to return to work more quickly.
3. Implement a Caregiver Tax Credit
The average caregiver spends $7,000 of their own money annually providing care for family members. For those taking care of family long distance, the money spent is approximately $14,000. Supporting family caregivers to meet caregiving costs can ensure family caregivers remain healthy and have the funds they need to retire. Survey data show that nationally one in 6 family caregivers have reduced the money they set aside for retirement, one in 7 have spent less on their own health care, more than one in 10 have gone into their retirement savings and another one in 10 have taken out a loan. (Family Caregiving and Out-of-Pocket Costs: 2016 Report.)