Other Voices

Unpaid family caregivers deserve our thanks — and much more support

There are more than 3.4 million unpaid family caregivers in Texas.

It is with pride that we extend our thanks to each one of them this November as we celebrate National Family Caregivers Month.

Family caregivers are the meal givers, the medicine givers, the compassion givers. They help their loved ones bathe and dress, prepare meals, drive to medical appointments, assist with finances and much more.

Some perform complex medical tasks like giving injections, managing complicated medications or cleaning wounds — often with little or no training.

Many provide this 24/7 care while working full time without a break.

Caregivers often sacrifice their time, money and even well-being to ensure that their family member is given the ability to live comfortably in their home and out of costly institutions.

But in the process, caregivers can sometimes lose sight of the importance of taking care of their own needs and are often taken for granted, despite the high value of care they maintain.

The cost of care unpaid family caregivers provide in Texas alone is estimated to be $35 billion a year — and it’s $470 billion worth of care provided nationally.

That amount is more than the annual sales ($469 billion) of the four largest U.S. tech companies combined (Apple, Hewlett Packard, IBM and Microsoft).

At AARP, we believe family caregivers aren’t recognized nearly enough; they not only deserve our thanks, but they deserve our support.

Caregiving is a labor of love, but it’s also often an incredibly time-intensive one.

There is information about support and resources, as well as stories of hope and perseverance at aaarp.org/caregivers.

Earlier this year, AARP worked with Texas lawmakers to encourage their support of the CARE Act, which would have helped family caregivers transition their loved ones from a hospital stay to their home.

The legislation didn’t become law, but lawmakers boosted funding for home and community-based assistance that allows many seniors to receive care at home rather than in costly nursing facilities.

Whether it’s at the Texas Capitol or in neighborhoods around the state, AARP will continue to advocate on behalf of unpaid family caregivers throughout the state.

We also will continue to extend our deep gratitude for the many things that they do.

Bob Jackson is the AARP Texas state director.

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