Final Push: Sign Our Petition for the CDC to Track Family Caregiver Stress

Denise
filler-327599_640The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released statistics last week about deaths from unintentional injury among adults 65 years of age and older. These incredibly valuable statistics point to the value of prevention and awareness.

And, yet, we know very little about the family members who care for those over 65 who need help to stay well and safe. In fact, we know very little about any individual who provides care to a family member or friend--regardless of age--with a chronic injury or illness. Because of our lack of knowledge, we don't have effective programs and services in place to help these 66 million family caregivers.

We think of the health care system as compromising hospitals, outpatient facilities, doctors, rehabilitation services. Sure, these are part of the health care system. Health care, though, happens in the family. Hospitals, outpatient facilities, doctors and rehab services provide once-in-awhile care.

Family members, like you, provide all-the-time care, day and night, day after day. You change wound care dressings, dispense medications, monitor health, provide activities, prepare special meals, keep health care professionals up-to-date, research options, advocate for the best possible care, make difficult decisions, shop for the the best-priced supplies, give the rides, first notice the problems, often suggest the solutions to health care professionals and keep the faith. You are the health care system.

Consider:

  • 5,723: Total number of hospitals (2012 American Hospital Association Annual Survey)

  • 920,829: Total number of hospital beds (2012 American Hospital Association Annual Survey)

  • 834,769: Total number of physicians (2012, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

  • 65.7 million: Total number of individuals who care for a family member or friend (National Alliance for Caregiving, 2009)


And, yet, we track little about how well these family caregivers are managing. They’re doing the heavy lifting in our health care system but we have no ability to track their stress and their own well-being. More importantly, we have no national policy or program to help all of them.

Just like we track flu outbreaks, why not track family caregiver stress, the true epidemic our communities face? I’ve started a petition which asks the Centers for Disease Control to track family caregivers stress and the cause of the stress. Even if 10% of family caregivers feel stressed, we still have more than 6 million overworked, unpaid and unsupported individuals providing health care. When we understand how many family caregivers are stressed and the reasons for their stress, we have data to lobby for effective solutions and programs to help family caregivers.

According to research released by the Pew Research Center in 2013, about 39% of U. S. adults–up from 30% in 2010–care for an adult or child with significant health issues. We have no infrastructure within the health care system to support, help and care for these family caregivers.

You can help. Just sign the petition which asks the CDC to track family caregiver stress and its cause. Then, share with your network, family members, friends and colleagues and ask them to sign as well.

With this final push, we hope to have 500 signatures by May 26.

Thanks so much!!

Sign the petition.

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