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Baby boomers becoming the next generation of caregivers

PHOENIX — There are more than 42 million family caregivers nationwide, and if you’re a baby boomer, chances are you are caring for your mom and dad.

“As of 2009, there are about 855,000 family caregivers in Arizona,” said Cynthia Fagyas, communications director of AARP Arizona. “Some of the challenges caregivers face are trying to work a full-time or part-time job (and being) on call 24/7. And 68 percent use their own money to care for their loved one.”

The typical family caregiver is a woman about 49 years old, often caring for her mother, according to Fagyas.

“On average, she cares for that loved one for about five years,” Fagyas said. “We’re talking about an economic value of about $9.4 billion annually here in Arizona alone.”

Although the work of a family caregiver is hard for the spouses, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles, “they absolutely want to love and care for their older loved ones.” Fagyas said.

The Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act is a bill which would make family caregivers part of their loved ones’ formal care team. Hospitals would be required to notify family if a loved one is to be discharged and prepare the caregiver to carry out tasks at home. Currently, there are 28 states working on passing the CARE Act bill; Arizona is not one of them.