Millions of people are currently impacted by the fractured and broken long-term care system in this country. They are seniors and people with disabilities who need support to remain independently at home but struggle to afford the care they need. They are sandwich generation women – primary caregivers for their kids and responsible for coordinating or providing care to their aging parents. They are the 34 million family caregivers – mostly unpaid – who have left the workforce to care for a relative, sometimes 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are home-care workers – who struggle daily to make ends meet, earning a median wage of $9.38 an hour.
And there are millions more who will be impacted by the issues facing our long-term care system as our population rapidly ages. Every eight seconds, someone turns 65 – that’s 10,000 every day, and 70 of people over 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives. In fact, the number of people needing long-term services and support is expected to grow from 13 million in 2000 to 27 million in 2050.
These tens of millions of people – young and old and in between – make up what we like to call the caring majority. It’s a majority that we must activate and mobilize to win the changes we need in our long-term care system – one in which caregivers and consumers are truly valued.
The need for elder care and home care poses a tremendous opportunity to transform one of the fastest growing job sectors in our economy, moving it from low-paid or unpaid work into an industry that allows people to age with dignity, to spend time with loved ones, to care for children, and to earn a decent wage for hard work. We can create precisely the kind of economic growth we need in our country right now: a caring economy of the 21st century that is based on human values of interdependence, dignity and the need to care for one another.
On October 18, Caring Across Generations and SEIU organized the first Care Canvass Day of Outreach. In over a dozen cities, home-care workers and supporters talked to thousands of voters about the need to strengthen our home-care and long-term care systems, as well as stand strong with the home-care workers in their fight for $15 wages. This work of knocking on doors one by one is what builds the caring majority and brings home care into the national spotlight.
You can join the caring majority by signing this pledge to become a home-care champion.