Did you know that caregiving is playing a role in the presidential election?
Face it. Providing care for a loved one can be an expensive proposition. For many “caregivers” it is considered a pocketbook issue. Time often needs to be taken off from work when that loved one needs you. This can be a time when pay is lost or a business suffers from the owner’s absence.
Family members provide care to their parents for instance out of love and a sense of duty. But while caregiving they are being hit twice. They are losing pay from their given profession and are not getting paid for the services they are rendering for their loved one. They do not necessarily expect to get paid for taking care of mom and dad, but wouldn’t that be nice?
Recently the American Association of Retired People (AARP) conducted a survey of 1,500 women aged fifty or older who were likely voters in the 2016 election. Questions on the survey were related to economic anxieties, like prices rising faster than income, increased taxes and retirement security. The survey was limited to 15 key “battleground” states.
Overall, eighty-five percent of women surveyed believe “it is important for presidential candidates to talk about how they would support family caregivers who provide unpaid care to aging parents or spouses or other adult family members.” Fifty-four percent of these women are currently or have been caregivers of a loved one.
“Taking care of a loved one can quickly become a full-time job,” said Terri Robbins, owner of Assisting Hands Home Care in Houston, Texas. “If you do not have other relatives or close family friends that you can count on to help out, you will more than likely loss income. There is a real case to be made for being compensated for the care you are providing.”
Early in October 2016, Hillary Clinton led Donald Trump by 15 percentage points with women fifty years old or older living in battleground states. Of these, 52% say Clinton would do a better job addressing social security issues compared to 34% for Trump.
When it comes to which candidate would do a better job addressing the issue of caregiver pay, Clinton led Trump by 30 percentage points.
The continually evolving landscape of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare coupled with staggering double-digit insurer rate increases anticipated in 2017 promises to keep the possibility of compensation for caregiving in the forefront.
“Who is and who isn’t eligible for tax credits to offset the Obamacare rate increases depends on many factors that a caregiver may not anticipate,” said Robbins. “They should not just assume they can quit their job to take care of their loved one and then take advantage of those credits.”
As tens of thousands of baby boomers reach the age of 65 each day, no matter who is elected President and takes office in January 2017, the question of compensation for caregivers will remain.