Lawmakers Encouraged to Find Better Supports for Indiana Caregivers

Posted On March 17, 2014

By Mary Kuhlman

elderly-hands-caregiver(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Increasing numbers of Hoosiers are assuming the role of caring for aging loved ones, which can add emotional, physical and financial stress to their lives. Addressing the issue in the state legislature, SCR17, written by Senator Vaneta Becker, urges the legislative council to study the issue of family care-giving. According to Becker, in the next 20 years, there will be more than 290,000 people in Indiana 85 years or older who will need caregiving assistance.

“Because we know that we’re addressing an increasingly older population of adults who have a significant need for long-term services and support, we need to look at developing more innovative methods to encourage and support families assisting their aging relatives,” Becker declared.

The resolution also would look at new ways to recruit and retain qualified responsive in-home care workers. In 2011, there were 1.34 million Hoosiers providing unpaid care for loved ones, spending on average more than $5000 a year out of pocket.

Ambre Marr, state legislative director for AARP Indiana, said an overwhelming majority of AARP members want to age in their homes and communities as long as possible. She said in-home care costs are much cheaper than nursing home care, saving the state Medicaid dollars.

“This is going to help the state budget by keeping older Hoosiers out of institutional care,” she stated. “So there are several reasons why caregiving is so important, not only because people want to remain in their homes, but also because if we can keep them in their homes longer, we can also keep them out of institutional care.”

Marr said the average caregiver is a 49-year-old woman who works outside the home and spends nearly 20 hours per week providing unpaid care to her mother for nearly five years. She said family helping family should be encouraged, but caregivers need more assistance.

“The time is now to address this surging population of older adults who have significant needs for these services, and Indiana is definitely capable of developing methods to both encourage and support these families, and we want to do everything we can to make them know that that’s what we’re doing.”

SCR17 has passed both the House and Senate, and is waiting to be assigned to a study committee.