Michigan Health Care Advocates Help Create National Caregiving Summit

Two local leaders support advocacy agenda for family and professional caregivers in Michigan and beyond

From caring for aging parents to connecting neighbors with trusted local resources, caregivers play a critical role in supporting communities’ health. But too often, they face obstacles to performing this vital work, including unfair pay, inequitable hiring practices, and few opportunities for professional advancement.

Michigan is home to an estimated 1.4 million family caregivers, based on Michigan Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (MiBRFSS) data from 2021, with one in five (21.4%) Michigan adults currently providing care to family members or friends. In the same report from 2017, Black non-Hispanic adults were more likely to report being caregivers (30.1%) than whites nonHispanic (20.0%).

The estimated economic value of family caregiving was $600 billion nationally as of 2021, based on about 38 million caregivers providing an average of 18 hours of care per week for a total of 36 billion hours of care, at an average value of $16.59 per hour.

Nearly half (47%) of caregivers nationally have experienced at least one financial setback because of their caregiving, including dipping into personal savings, cutting back on their own spending, and reducing how much caregivers save for their own retirement.

Tim Niyonsenga is a Senior Program Officer at the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and leads caregiver-related work under the Healthy Aging Initiative. Latavia Cooper-Bell is a dedicated community health worker and caregiver to her parents, one in the early stages of dementia, while maintaining a full-time job. Both Niyonsenga and Cooper-Bell serve as part of the Health Leads Caregiver Coalition and will be presenting in the keynote session at the upcoming National Caregiver Summit on Thursday, May 2nd.

This free, half-day, virtual event brings together caregivers, care receivers and allied partners to set new priorities for action and take a closer look at caregiver financial well-being and sustainability. The event was designed for caregivers, by caregivers, with goal to offer audiences the opportunity to:

· Connect: Build a community that values, appreciates, and respects all caregiver experiences

· Advocate: Collaborate on local and national advocacy efforts

· Rejuvenate: Provide opportunities and resources that help nurture caregivers’ well-being

· Educate: Share key strategies, approaches, and tools needed to create an equitable caregiving system

Sessions will provide real-world guidance on how to advocate for caregivers, tips for caregiver self-care and support, and opportunities to connect with fellow caregivers.

If you are a caregiver providing these critical services, consider uplifting your voice at this year’s Summit. Sessions will be available in English and Spanish. Learn more and explore the agenda at https://healthleadsusa.org/events/national-caregiver-summit/.

Health Leads has been an innovator in community-led health equity initiatives and advocacy for over 25 years, Health Leads drives toward a vision of “health, well-being and dignity, for every person, in every community.” Health Leads has a proven track record of working with local and national partners to unearth and address the root causes of some of the most pressing and complex health equity challenges of today. From maternal health to vaccine access to housing and food security, Health Leads is focused on removing systemic barriers to health and building a future where communities have the essential resources they need to thrive.

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