The Credit for Caring Act: Making the Big Responsibilities of Caregiving a Little Bit Easier
By Nancy LeaMond
The pandemic has put a spotlight on a simple truth – the backbone of America’s care system is breaking. Across the country, 48 million Americans are helping older parents, spouses, and other adult loved ones stay safe, healthy, and independent in their homes and communities. More than two-thirds (67%) of family caregivers are women, and 61% are in the paid workforce. While caregiving is a labor of love, it can also be time-consuming, emotionally draining, and costly.
On average, family caregivers spend nearly 24 hours a week providing care – the equivalent of a part-time job. And, new AARP research found that around 80% routinely spend their own money on care-related expenses, with the average amount totaling $7,240 a year. That translates to 26% of their household income, on average, going toward things like assisted living, home modification, rent, mortgages, or medical expenses for their loved ones. Some groups spend a lot more. For example, Hispanic/Latino caregivers spend, on average, 47% of their household income on caregiving, and expenses for African American caregivers total, on average, 34% of income. To make all of this work, nearly half of family caregivers cut back on their personal spending, dip into their savings, or reduce how much they save for retirement.
That’s why AARP is supporting the Credit for Caring Act. It is commonsense legislation that would take some of the financial pressure off by giving eligible family caregivers a tax credit to offset some of their expenses. Today, more people are identifying as caregivers and being more open about the challenges of helping older family members or neighbors while, for many, juggling work, raising kids, and other responsibilities. But we still have a long way to go to recognize the critical role that family caregivers play and to give them the support they need and deserve. This legislation is a good step to make this big responsibility a little bit easier.
Nancy LeaMond is the Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer at AARP.