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50+: Live Better, Longer

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1 in 3 Adults in U.S. Is a Caregiver

Typical Caregiver Is a Woman in Her Late 40s Taking Care of an Elderly Parent, Study Finds

Health Care Debate Includes Caregivers

The tax credit is not a part of the sweeping health care legislation now being crafted by Congress, but Ginzler says the bill under consideration does include provisions that would help family caregivers.

Among the most ambitious is the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, authored by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. The act provides for a national, voluntary insurance program to help Americans pay for long-term care.

Under the proposed plan, workers who do not opt out of the program would pay premiums through payroll deductions for disability and long-term care insurance.

The House version of the health care bill also provides additional funding for the National Family Caregiver Support Program, which aids family and community caregivers, Ginzler says.

Although more support services would help many caregivers, government and community assistance programs may elude many others, says Donna Schempp, who serves as program director for the Family Care Alliance.

That’s because many people don’t recognize themselves as caregivers, even though they are.

“A husband or wife who takes care of a sick spouse or an adult child who takes care of a parent may not think of him or herself as a caregiver,” she tells WebMD. “As a result, they may not think to look for resources that can help them.”

Even those who do seek help may not find the kind of support they need most, such as day care services or other resources aimed at easing the caregiver burden.

“Most caregiver support programs focus on teaching skills to improve patient care,” she says. “While this is certainly important, it is also important to teach caregivers the skills they need to take care of themselves during a very stressful time.”

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