More than 1 in 5 Americans serve as caregivers, providing crucial assistance to children, adults with disabilities, aging parents, and other loved ones — and more than 75% of those caregivers are women.
Many women caregivers in the United States are mothers, including at least 2.5 million who belong to the “sandwich generation” of caregivers — those who care for both their children and aging parents. Studies show that women caregivers are more likely to handle the most difficult caregiving tasks, and that women caregivers are at increased likelihood for mental, physical, and emotional distress and poor health compared to male caregivers.
These findings reinforce the vital need for robust advocates for women caregivers. To commemorate Mothers’ Day this year, we are highlighting how Modern Medicaid Alliance partner Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) supports the vital work mothers and caregivers do for their families and communities.
Medicaid and Caregivers: A Reciprocal Relationship
Caregivers ensure that Medicaid enrollees receive high-quality care while remaining comfortable in their own homes. In turn, Medicaid provides family caregivers with the support they need to practice at-home care.
Caregivers provide a wide range of care – from providing essential medical services, such as feeding and bathing, to important household activities, like grocery shopping and managing finances. Research shows that caregivers’ contributions to their loved ones help offset the costs of personal care and delay the need for more costly care settings, such as hospitalization or nursing facility services.
Further, home and community-based services (HCBS) enable patients to live independently in their homes and communities. The majority (57%) of HCBS in the United States are funded by Medicaid, and these services encompass programs that address both daily living and medical needs. HCBS provide caregivers and patients with greater independence and flexibility to give and receive care at home. Beyond HCBS, Medicaid offers trainings and resources for caregivers to ensure they are well-equipped to provide health services to their loved ones.
SWHR: An Advocate for Caregivers and Patients with Alzheimer’s
SWHR has developed numerous resources to highlight the critical role caregivers play in the lives of their loved ones with chronic, degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, including hosting activities to advocate for caregivers.
SWHR recently published a comprehensive fact sheet that explores the disproportionate impact of Alzheimer’s disease on women as both patients and caregivers and outlines specific policy solutions to improve outcomes related to women and Alzheimer’s care.
Last summer, SWHR hosted a national congressional briefing webinar around Alzheimer’s disease with medical, policy, and patient and caregiver advocacy experts to discuss the findings and policy solutions outlined in their research. They also released a policy agenda and an accompanying blog post highlighting the personal and workforce challenges women caregivers face.
SWHR’s efforts to support women caregivers highlight the essential role that caregivers play in the lives of Medicaid patients. By working with Medicaid programs, caregivers ensure their loved ones receive the high-quality health care they need.
For more information on SWHR’s research and advocacy efforts, visit their website.