Johnstown, PA- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) joined by Johnstown area residents and medical professionals in the region unveiled a national Caregiver Corps plan to aid aging residents in Southwestern Pennsylvania and their families who provide care. As middle class Americans are increasingly sandwiched between the need to provide care for aging relatives, raise children and secure their own retirement, the Casey legislation would allow family caregivers a respite. The bill would connect the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with local volunteers to fill in the gaps in the current system so that volunteers can be better connected with families in need of a caregiver. HHS would provide the structure and guidelines needed to bolster locally driven efforts that connect families with willing volunteers
“Many members of the ‘sandwich generation’ are working more and making less, while at the same time dealing with challenges of caring for aging parents, raising children and squeezing every penny to ensure retirement,” said Senator Casey. “That is why I plan to introduce legislation to establish a Caregiver Corps program to foster the creation of community-based programs that can help ‘fill the gap’ in assisting older adults and individuals with disabilities, and in providing added support for informal caregivers. The Caregiver Corps will give middle class families another avenue for help or assistance as they struggle to support their own children and care for an aging parent.”
Currently, more than 75% of Americans 65 and older suffer from chronic conditions which over time may require assistance to help them live at home. There are also almost 38 million Americans of all ages who have one or more disabilities. In comparison, there are only 52 to 65 million informal caregivers and 800,000 home health aides assisting adults to remain in their homes.
Senator Casey’s legislation will give members of the sandwich generation another avenue for help or assistance as they struggle to support their own children and care for an aging parent. The bill would give the Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to develop a toolkit and guidance for local entities to establish and implement local Caregiver Corps programs giving local faith-based groups or volunteer programs the tools to train volunteers so that they are prepared and understand how they can best support an older adult or person with a disability.
Only 12% of caregivers report having used a respite service and the Caregiver Corps Act will give them additional options for respite care. Respite is a means of giving the caregiver a break from their caregiving duties. The volunteer is an "extra set of hands" to support the older adult/person with disability as well as can be a friendly companion while the caregiver attends to their own needs and when a direct care worker's hands-on skills are not necessary.