200A new policy brief authored by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research in September 2011 highlights the excessive financial and emotional strain facing families or friends who are caring for an aging individual. Key concerns rest with the 2.6 million caregivers between age 45 years and 64 years whose participation in negative health behavior, such as smoking, may dramatically heighten their risk of future health concerns in comparison to their non-care giving counterparts of the same age range or older.

The authors of this new policy brief are leveraging data from a 2009 California Health Interview Survey. The data revealed that California caregivers provide more than 20 hours per week for a friend or relative who is unable to perform self care, including bathing, taking care of finances, and managing their own medications.

Geoffrey Hoffman MPH, the brief’s lead author, points out that the serious depression, financial and physical burdens on caregivers ought to warrant attention from policy makers. Hoffman, along with the policy’s other authors also note the cuts to California’s In-Home Support Services program coupled with the scheduled December 1 elimination of the Adult Health Day Care program will only elevate these burdens on informal caregivers.

Policy authors greatly urge the support of the (CLASS) Community Living Assistance and Supports program, which provides voluntary, consumer-funded long-term care insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health reform. The health reform would offer a cash benefit that could be utilized to compensate informal caregivers and purchase needed respite or medical health services.

The full health policy and its findings can be viewed on the UCLA for Health Policy Research website at www.healthpolicy.ucla.edu.