Federal Aid Could Offset Costs for CT Family Caregivers
Friday, July 30, 2021
HARTFORD, Conn. - In Connecticut, more than 460,000 people care for close friends or family members who can't manage on their own - and their advocates say more federal investment in home- and community-based care would help.
The latest AARP report says four out of five people would prefer to be cared for at home rather than in institutional settings - but 78% of family caregivers face regular out-of-pocket costs to provide that care.
In Connecticut, Betty Bajek is the sole caregiver for her 95-year-old mother.
"She wants to be able to live in her own home, so we are trying our best to keep her there," said Bajek. "Right now, we don't need to bring in any aides, but I anticipate that may happen."
The American Rescue Plan includes a temporary increase in funding to states for home- and community-based services, and some help for family caregivers, investing in respite programs and care coordination.
Groups across the nation are also pushing the "Credit for Caring Act" in Congress, a non-refundable tax credit for eligible, working family caregivers.
Bajek helps her mother with activities of daily living, and helps pay for groceries and house upkeep. She said other possible high-cost items are looming.
"But I just worry that there's still the big things, like the taxes on the house and the insurance on the house," said Bajek. "And medical expenses, I think, are going to start to add up a little bit more as well."
The racial disparities in caregiving costs are significant for Latinx and Black Americans, who spend an average of 47% and 34% of their income on family care respectively, compared to the national average of 26%.
Along with the financial and physical tolls of caregiving, Bajek said the emotional impact carries a weight, too.
"Even though I'm not with her 24 hours a day, she's in my thoughts 24 hours a day," said Bajek. "'Oh, did mom do this? Did mom do that? How can I make it better for her?'"
The Credit for Caring Act is under review in the Senate Committee on Finance. The higher home-care investments in the American Rescue Plan expire next March.
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