During and in the aftermath of the 1992 presidential election, pundits including Bill Clinton’s…
Caregiving Might Be the Sleeper Issue of the 2024 Elections
Over the last few years, in part due to the pandemic, the challenge of caring for adult loved ones has been getting more attention as an important issue for American families – whether it’s navigating the patchwork of our nation’s long-term care “system” or the everyday struggles of people helping take care of aging spouses, parents, grandparents or other relatives and friends.
But, there is still a disconnect between how top-of-mind caregiving is for millions of voters and where it tends to fall on the priority list of policymakers and political candidates.
A new AARP survey conducted by a bipartisan team of two top political pollsters, Tony Fabrizio and John Anzalone found that issues related to family caregiving are so important to such a wide swath of voters across party lines that this could be, in the words of John Anzalone, “the sleeper issue of the 2024 elections.” As Tony Fabrizio noted, caregiving presents an “opportunity on either side of the aisle to actually have outreach and talk about something that touches [voters’] lives personally every single day.”
Here are a just few highlights from the survey:
- An overwhelming majority of voters (78%) are either current, past, or future family caregivers . . . that’s nearly 4 in 5 voters.
- More than 70% of voters across the political spectrum say they would be more likely to support a candidate who backed proposals to support family caregivers, such as a tax credit, paid family leave, and more support and respite services.
- 75% of voters age 50+ say it is very important for Congress to help seniors live in their own homes. And, more than half (57%) say the same for supporting unpaid family caregivers.
Another important takeaway: caregiving is particularly important to WOMEN voters. Nearly 3 in 5 (57%) of America’s 48 million family caregivers are women, and 2 in 5 (39%) are women age 50 and up. Therefore, elected officials and political candidates interested in capturing the “women’s vote” would be well-served by paying attention to – and addressing – their concerns on this issue.
For example: Women spend more time caring for loved ones and it takes more of a toll, emotionally and financially.
- Almost half (48%) of women family caregivers provide more than 20 hours of care per week, compared to less than one-third (29%) of men.
- Additionally, women caregivers are far more likely than men to be: stressed due to caregiving (81% women / 61% men); feel strained financially (61% women / 46% men); feel overwhelmed (69% women / 47% men); struggle to balance their own family responsibilities (72% women / 53% men); and, to have quit or reduced their hours at work (50% women / 32% men).
While women family caregivers cite a lack of time as their biggest challenge, the thing they really want from policymakers is financial assistance. When given the choice between financial support and support that would give them more time, these women prefer financial support by a 28-point margin (61% financial / 33% more time).
As I’ve been saying for years, family caregivers are the backbone of a broken long-term care system – and quantified that, showing they are providing an eye-popping $600 billion in unpaid labor each year, saving taxpayers billions.
While we have seen some positive movement in states across the country and the recent White House executive order, it is long past time for lawmakers to really pay attention to these kitchen table, day-to-day challenges that millions of Americans face and help older adults live independently in their homes, where they want to be.