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Recognizing the love and sacrifices made by caregivers

Everyone needs care at differing points in their lives. Whether as a child with the flu or whether as a senior slowed by age and ailments, we all need care. For many Americans, a caregiver is needed in between the beginning of life and its end, often when someone is prevented by injury or illness from working.

In millions of American households, family members are relied upon to provide complex care and to perform medical duties. Family caregivers are depended upon in a variety of situations, including in helping an aged parent or assisting a loved one with a disability.

It’s estimated that more than 41 million family members give care to a loved one; about two-thirds of the caregivers are women. Their contributions of love and care are incalculable and irreplaceable, but it’s estimated that if they these caregivers were paid for their work, they would have been owed $450 billion in 2009 (a figure that has almost assuredly risen since then).

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the numbers: about 12 million people in this country require long-term care. Nearly five million of them are under age 65.

By the time they’re ready to retire, nearly three out of every four Americans will have had to deal with at least one period of disability, whether the period was short or long.

Some would argue that as a nation, we aren’t comfortable with the topic of disabilities and the need for caregivers.

A recent article argued that “there are only a few public policies to address the needs of people living with disabilities.” It cited Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as two of the few programs available.

What remains unaddressed is how to help those disabled workers receive the care they so often need. As already noted, we tend to rely on family members. But the burden on them is often overwhelming: in many cases, they work full-time jobs in addition to their caregiving tasks at home.

Let’s hope we one day soon begin to look more thoughtfully at how to assist caregivers help their loved ones.

A reminder for those who are unable to work: an experienced attorney can help appeal a rejection of an SSDI benefits claim. 

Source: Center for American Progress, “Caregiving in America,” Sarah Jane Glynn and Jane Farrell , Feb. 5, 2014

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