Jan 25, 2010

Obama Caregiver Help on the Way, Buck or Five Bucks?

Maybe a hundred of us could get together, throw our names in a hat, and let one person get all 33 hours. I'm in.

By Bob DeMarco

A recent study indicates that there are 48.9 million adult only caregivers.

In his State of the Union address President Obama is going to propose expanding support for families balancing work with caring for elderly relatives with a $102.5 million Caregiver Initiative.

This includes adding $52.5 million in funding to the Department of Health and Human Services caregiver support programs. This program provides temporary respite care, counseling, training, and referrals to critical services. The administration says the extra funding will allow nearly 200,000 additional caregivers to be served, and 3 million more hours of respite care to be provided.

The new funding also adds $50 million to programs that provide transportation help, adult day care, and in-home services, such as aides to help seniors bathe and cook. This program is designed to help ease the burden for family members and helps seniors stay in their homes.

Let's do some math. $52.5 million divided by 200,000 caregivers equals $2625 per caregiver. Impressive for sure. Now lets divide $52.5 million by 48.9 million adult only caregivers in America. This equals $1.07. Not so impressive.

I understand that not all 48.9 million adult only caregivers need help. Lets assume only 10 million need help, the number is low but follow along. This means there is going to be another $5.20 annually available for caregivers.

I wonder how many seniors need help taking a bath and cooking? Lets go with 10 million. So there is going to be some fraction of $50 million available for them.

Let's assume in home care cost $15 an hour (I know that is a low number, but stick with me). $50 million divided by $15 equals 3,333,333 hours. Now that is impressive. Spread across 48.9 million adult caregivers? .0069 hours each. Not so impressive. Across ten million caregivers, .33 hours. Not so impressive.

Maybe a hundred of us could get together, throw our names in a hat, and let one person get all 33 hours. I'm in.

I'll tell ya what. Here is what I would like the government to do for my mother who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

Give her a weekly shower and rub down her entire body with a good quality skin care product. Good to me means something like Lubriderm daily skin moisturizer. I would like this entire process to last for 2 hours. I get the benefit of two hours to do anything I want to do -- respite.

That is how I would like to use our $1.07, or $5.20 or whatever the number is.

What I would really like is the two hours a week. 104 hours a year.

It now appears that our politicians are going to ignore the coming Alzheimer's caregiver crisis for as long as they can. Once we reach the crisis stage they will start arguing over a solution.

This means it will end up costing more in the long run. Politics as usual.

If you could have one simple government service once a week for two hours, what would it be?

Bob DeMarco
is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 4,200 articles with more than 350,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room