You may be a caregiver if you drive a friend to doctors’ appointments, cook, clean, and or help with medication, medical equipment or in the many other ways we assist loved ones facing health challenges.
As former U.S. First Lady Rosalynn Carter often said, “There are only four types of people in the world – those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers.”
November is National Family Caregivers Month. In Illinois, we see remarkable progress towards supporting family and friend caregivers with the creation of a new statewide broad-based coalition of stakeholders called the Illinois Family Caregiver Coalition. Powered by Illinois Aging Services and Illinois Area Agencies on Aging, the 200-strong coalition includes caregivers, statewide associations, and nonprofit organizations.
The coalition focuses on supporting unpaid caregivers and spotlighting the data which shows the prevalence of family caregiving. According to the 2022 AARP Illinois Survey on Family Caregiving, “there are nearly 1.5 million caregivers who provide more than 1.24 billion hours of unpaid care valued at over $17 billion each year.”
We call on the Governor and his administration to position Illinois as a national leader supporting family caregivers. Last year’s budget was a strong start, but more is needed to support family caregivers and to achieve long-term care cost savings in Illinois.
We challenge the business community, benefits specialists, and management teams to up their game supporting current and future employees who also provide informal caregiving in Illinois.
We invite you to join us in celebrating Family Caregivers Month and providing a voice for unpaid caregivers in Illinois now and in the future.