I was trying to wake up the other day and heard a radio newscaster talk about Hillary Clinton stumping for improvements in U.S. child care benefits.
I haven’t been able to track down exactly which speech included the mention of child care benefits. Maybe Clinton also mentioned benefits for people who provide care for older relatives. The newscaster only mentioned child care benefits.
Family elder care caregiving clearly needs a lot more promotional help. If only it could be a presidential election campaign issue.
All of us have been children. We all understand that someone took care of us. Many of us have an instinctive urge to care for just about every baby and small child that we see. We may wish we had more time and money to do that, but no one has to tell us we have to do that.
Understanding of informal elder care is still a lot lower. There seems to be a general sense that “The Government” will handle that, or that some mysterious rich relative who has a big house and a lot of time will show up to save the day.
One challenge with getting elder care the same kind of attention that child care gets is that the caregiving crisis is a bipartisan issue.
Everyone who has had personal involvement with elder caregiving knows that there’s a huge, poorly understood need for care planning. There also seems to be an understanding that society has to think about these issues creatively, because it does not look as if the government is going to come up with a giant pot of money for high-quality family elder care any time soon.
What would be great is if there were some way to harness the burning interest in campaign scandals to get people thinking about elder care planning.
The elder care crisis is really more of a scandal than Whitewater, George Bush’s service record or Barack Obama’s birthplace, but it’s a slow, quiet, cold scandal, not something that gets our blood boiling.
If only some clever campaign strategist could figure out a way to turn elder care into a red-hot campaign scandal without accidentally making concern about caregiving a partisan issue.
Maybe, for example, some kind, doomed candidate could “accidentally” make a cruelly stupid nasty comment about caregivers, forcing the other candidates to rush to stand up for caregivers, as quickly and as loudly as possible.
See also: AARP: Republicans back caregiver support