Caregivers need our support

By Beth Finkel

Last week, Mayor de Blasio signed into law two bills that take important strides toward supporting both paid caregivers and unpaid family caregivers in an aging New York City.

That’s great news, and it can’t come soon enough. Across the state, nearly 2.6 million unpaid family caregivers help make it possible for older adults and loved ones to live independently at home—and at a much lower cost to taxpayers than if they had to move to institutional care settings. As our population continues to rapidly age—and especially since the number of potential family caregivers can’t keep pace—we will need to make sure caregivers have the support they need.

And that’s what New Yorkers want. An AARP-commissioned survey found eight of every 10 city voters 50 and older felt strongly that elected officials should make support for family caregivers a priority.

Family caregivers help their older loved ones with medications and medical care, meals, bathing and dressing, chores and much more. And they do this all while often putting their own needs last, with many juggling full- or part-time jobs.

The two new laws require the Department for the Aging to identify the needs of unpaid caregivers and develop a comprehensive plan to address those needs, and to establish a new Division of Paid Care within the Office of Labor Standards.

Those are great steps, but this year’s city budget did not include adequate funding for services to help New Yorkers age independently at home. The next step for our city leaders is to make sure next year’s city budget does.

Beth Finkel

State Director

AARP New York

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