Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Almost 10 million Americans provide unpaid care for a person with Alzheimer's.
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar says a new national study on Alzheimer's disease highlights the need for federal legislation which she has introduced to help families with elder care responsibilities. According to a new study by the Alzheimer's Association, 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's. Demographic trends indicate that the number of affected individuals and families will grow significantly in the years to come. The study estimates that almost 10 million Americans currently provide unpaid care for a person with Alzheimer's or other dementia. Most of these unpaid caregivers are family members. In 2008, they provided 8.5 billion hours of unpaid care, a contribution to the nation valued at $94 billion. In Minnesota, 175,960 Alzheimer's caregivers provide more than 150 million hours of unpaid care worth nearly $1.7 billion. In addition to the unpaid care families contribute, the report also shows that Alzheimer's creates high out-of-pocket health and long-term care expenses for families. "Millions of families are coping with the challenges and costs of caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease," said Klobuchar. "Just as our nation has adopted public policies to help families with child care responsibilities, we now need policies to help families with their elder care responsibilities." Klobuchar has introduced the AGE (Americans Giving care to Elders) Act to assist families who care for aging family members. It is designed as a starting point to relieve the financial and other burdens faced by family caregivers. The legislation would provide financial relief to family caregivers by creating a tax credit for elder care costs. Families would be able to qualify for up to $1,200 each year to offset a wide range of costs in caring for an aging or ailing relative. The tax credit would begin to phase out for families making over $120,000 per year and would be eliminated for families making over $200,000. The legislation would also enhance support for family caregivers by establishing the National Caregiving Resource Center as a central clearinghouse where families, public agencies and private organizations can learn about best practices and promising innovations to support families in their care giving roles. In addition, the legislation would strengthen the National Family Caregiver Support Program which helps fund direct services to family caregivers. The legislation has been endorsed by the Family Caregiver Alliance, National Alliance for Caregiving, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, National Rural Health Association, Senior Citizens League and Third Way. The new study, entitled 2009 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures, is available at the Alzheimer's Association website: http://www.alz.org/