As the government recognizes the savings that occur due to the efforts of informal caretakers they enact policies to create caregiver support systems to encourage family members to continue to take care of elderly relatives. In 2000, the federal government enacted the National Family Caregiver support Program to better care for those that are caretakers for others. The already strained resources of the federal government have been struggling to continue to provide health care to an aging population that requires more from caretakers than ever. By providing in home care to elderly relatives, not only do families often offer a better standard of care and higher quality of life, but they also save Medicare millions of dollars in nursing home expenses each year. Once the government recognized the trend of informal caretakers assuming responsibility for elderly or disabled family members they focused on offering increased caregiver support to encourage the trend to continue.
Benefits of Home Caregivers
Caregiver support can have several aspects, and each state has some form of support network in place. The most common caregiver support options include:
- Help with the burden of being the primary caretaker.
- Financial relief.
- Time off.
For many families faced with the burden of providing care to an elderly relative the stress mounts quickly and they start to consider other options, like nursing homes. Nursing home care is covered by Medicare, but represents a significant cost for the government. In order to prevent families from choosing that option when they are willing to provide the care, but simply find it too difficult in the long-term, the government has begun funding community based programs that are designed to support the primary caretaker. Many of these programs are predominantly volunteer, keeping costs low. In response to the financial burden of caring for an elderly relative the government has begun to offer tax benefits and other services that help to minimize the cost for caretakers. They have also begun offering two weeks each year of assisted care in a facility to allow families a vacation from the responsibility of caring for their elderly. These new resources are making it easier for family members to be an active participant in the care of their loved ones.