An elderly man sits with his adult son on the couch.

Why We Need to Pay Family Caregivers (Starting Now)

By 2030, 24 million people will require long-term care—about double the number who need it today. Where will this labor force come from?

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As the population ages and the need for long-term care (LTC) surges, a critical shortage of caregivers is looming, threatening to strain healthcare systems and create substantial burdens for both patients and providers. Recognizing this impending crisis, policymakers and organizations are now advocating for a paradigm shift that places greater emphasis on home-based care, harnessing the power of family caregivers. Emerging research, such as the collaborative white paper from Aidaly and the AARP Foundation, highlights the potential of leveraging cash allowances to compensate family caregivers. This innovative approach not only yields significant health results but also stands to alleviate the strain on healthcare resources and improve overall health outcomes.

The Looming Long-Term Care Crisis

The demographic landscape of the United States is undergoing a profound transformation, with a rapidly growing senior population. By 2030, an estimated 21% of the population will be aged 65 or older, up from 17% in 2020. As this older segment of the population increases, so does the demand for LTC, encompassing the assistance individuals require to perform their daily activities, from bathing and dressing to cooking and managing finances. This surge in demand for LTC is compounded by the fact that the number of caregivers available to provide this care is dwindling, with individuals aged 18-65 projected to constitute only 58% of the population by 2030, down from 61% in 2020.

Chronic diseases further compound the challenges associated with aging. As the prevalence of chronic conditions increases, so does the complexity of care required. Individuals with multiple chronic conditions are at a heightened risk of functional limitations, necessitating more intensive and intricate care. The number of people affected by chronic diseases is expected to double within the next 15 years, placing even more strain on the healthcare system.

Shifting Towards Home-Based Care

In response to these challenges, federal and state stakeholders are taking proactive measures to encourage the shift of LTC from institutional settings to home-based care. Policies such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Balancing Incentives Program (BIP) and the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) are driving the transition by supporting care delivery in the home and community-based settings. Additionally, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is providing flexibility to Medicare Advantage plans to support caregivers, recognizing their vital role in the overall healthcare landscape.

The Potential of Compensated Family Caregivers

In this evolving healthcare landscape, one promising solution is to recognize and compensate family caregivers for their vital contributions. The collaborative effort between Aidaly and the AARP Foundation sheds light on the transformative potential of this approach. The Aidaly program, focused on training, supporting, and compensating family caregivers, demonstrated remarkable results during its Alpha pilot.

Participants in the Aidaly program, who were partnered with dedicated Care Coaches and Financial Experts, experienced a 50% reduction in unplanned medical care compared to baseline, including a 30% reduction in emergency room visits and hospital admissions. This translated into improved health outcomes, with an increase in healthy days reported by both care recipients and caregivers. Moreover, households participating in the program demonstrated a 180% increase in their ability to withstand financial shocks, underscoring the broader economic impact of supporting family caregivers.

A Research-Backed Approach

The collaborative research underscores the efficacy of compensated family caregivers. Across 15 states and 5,000 participants, a substantial decrease in healthcare expenditures was observed, along with markedly improved health outcomes. The study reported a 33% decrease in emergency room utilization, a 50% decrease in hospital admissions, and a 13-day reduction in hospital stays. Furthermore, the research revealed that caregivers receiving compensation experienced fewer complications and exacerbations of chronic conditions, including significant reductions in infections and shortness of breath.

Empowering Families through Aidaly

The findings from this collaborative research advocate for a fundamental shift in the way we approach caregiving. Aidaly's mission to empower families to provide care at home through training, support, and compensation aligns with this transformative vision. By recognizing the critical role of family caregivers and providing them with the resources they need, we can navigate the impending LTC crisis while simultaneously improving health outcomes and reducing the burden on healthcare systems.

In a rapidly changing healthcare landscape, the solution may lie within our own homes, where the dedication of family caregivers can be harnessed, supported, and compensated. The research speaks volumes: it's time to pay family caregivers and provide them with the tools they need to ensure a healthier future for all. The shift starts now.

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