Illinois is poised to become a national leader in supporting family caregivers

The new statewide Illinois Family Caregiver Coalition is focused on highlighting the high number of unpaid caregivers in the country and the hours and money they spend providing care for loved ones.

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Illinois can become a national leader in supporting family caregivers, an advocate writes.

Illinois can become a national leader in supporting family caregivers, an advocate writes.

Barabas Attila - stock.adobe.com

You may be a caregiver if you drive a friend to doctor’s appointments or to run errands. If you cook or clean or help a family member with bill-paying. If you help a loved one with medication or medical equipment.

As former 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.

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The coalition is focused on the data highlighting the high number of unpaid caregivers (one in five throughout the country), the long hours of care provided and the large amounts of money spent from their own pockets toward care for loved ones. According to the 2022 AARP Illinois Survey on Family Caregiving and Long-Term Care, “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. It is also estimated that family caregivers spend an average of $7,242 each year on care for their loved ones.”

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.

Amy Brennan, executive director, Illinois Family Caregiver Coalition

Courage in Colorado Springs

It’s a shame that the Uvalde, Texas police department didn’t have some LGBTQ drag queens on their force. Perhaps that tragedy wouldn’t have been as horrific if they had displayed the courage of those who subdued the mass shooter in Colorado Springs.

Tom Scorby, St. Charles, IL

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