It goes by a couple of names: National Caregivers Awareness Day or National Family Caregiving Day. Whatever, it’s day that Hallmark has forgotten. At least I haven’t seen any Caregiver Recognition cards in any card stores I frequent.
Who comes up with these designations? I tried to find out, and to my surprise, a proclamation to observe November as caregiver month came out of the White House in October. It was just a proclamation. No mention of any kind of assistance for caregivers.
I was first made aware of National Caregiver Day through the Alzheimer’s Face Book page. Sometime around November 18th, people could participate in an Alzheimer’s sponsored walk, and if their team raised $50, they got a flower pin in the color of their choice, showing the world they care about caregivers.
Well, as one of the 467-thousand Virginia caregivers of a dementia patient, I must say: who cares?
You see, we caregivers would have earned 6.9 billion, yes with a “B” dollars last year had we been paid for our 532 million hours of caregiving.
To my knowledge, not one cent of the fifty dollars collected by the hikers went to a caregiver. Do you know what fifty dollars could buy? Among other things, it could get you a respite caregiver for two hours. Most in home services run about $25 per hour.
Dementia, in all its forms, is one of the only diseases/illnesses/disabilities that require you to be bankrupt before any assistance is available. For instance, if the dementia patient eventually needs to be removed from the home to a memory care facility, the caregiver (family) must show they have less than 25-thousand in combined savings in order to qualify for Medicaid. They don’t penalize for ownership of one car and a house. Keep in mind that financial advisors instruct folks to have 6-12 months salary in savings. Kiss that good-bye if you applying for Medicaid for a dementia patient. And all the rest of your stocks, bonds, insurance, etc. count against you.
So far, we dementia caregivers cannot get Medicaid for memory care facilities, we do not get a tax credit for the out of pocket expenses of caring for a dementia patient and we certainly don’t receive any kind of financial assistance for the caregiving.
So, here’s what happens: The caregiver goes bankrupt in order to get the dementia patient into a facility. Now, the state and federal government are supporting two (at least) people.
Well, you say, we can’t afford to give out assistance to everyone. Yes, but consider that one in three Americans over the age of 65 has been diagnosed with some form of dementia, and that number keeps growing.
I do appreciate that the Alzheimer’s Association compiles all these statistics, and funds research for a cure.
But, please, enough with the $50 pin as a a reward for a walk. Your pin might make you feel like you care about a caregiver. But, as a caregiver, it doesn’t do a thing for me. Ask any caregiver what they would do with an extra $50. I can 100% guarantee it wouldn’t be spent on a flower pin.