Averting the Caregiving Crisis: Why We Must Act Now

In October of 2010, RCI released “Averting the Caregiving Crisis: Why We Must Act Now”, a position paper outlining 12 recommendations for addressing the caregiving crisis that is already upon us. This paper was based on several years of intensive study of the caregiving process, an extensive review of evidence-based programs developed to help family caregivers, and current translational strategies for making effective programs widely available to caregivers. “Averting the Caregiving Crisis: Why We Must Act Now” highlighted the contributing factors to our nation’s caregiving crisis and recommended specific strategies for resolving the crisis by re-envisioning support for family caregivers.

Progress has been made at all levels in addressing the unmet needs of family caregivers over the past several months. RCI has continued its dialogue with representatives from the Administration on Aging, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office on Disability, the Department of Labor, the Social Security Administration, and the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition, the RCI sought the expertise and feedback of professionals involved in service delivery, caregiving research, and evidence-based implementation and policy. Several milestones have occurred, yet the need for more concrete action is urgent. To sharpen our focus and advance this agenda, we have restated the twelve original recommendations as six strategic initiatives in “Averting the Caregiving Crisis: An Update”.

It is critical that we act now to preserve the most important component of our long-term care system. In the words of Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee at our 2010 Summit, “Families are the core of the system. They always have been. They are both the center and the soul of the system. We need family caregivers – we need them because there is no replacement. You can’t make this a commodity. But we also need them economically as a nation, because we can’t afford to buy this care from strangers.”