Neal Opening Statement at Hearing on Caring for Aging Elders
(As prepared for delivery)
Good morning and welcome. We are here to discuss a difficult issue that confronts nearly every family in our nation – how to care for our loved ones as they age. It’s fitting that we work to address this matter in November, which is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and U.S. National Family Caregivers Month.
This is deeply personal for many of us in this room. And for those who haven’t personally struggled to ensure an older relative receives the care they need, you most certainly know someone in your life who has.
Navigating a fragmented and insufficient long-term care system can be not only confusing and emotionally taxing, but also enormously expensive – even unaffordable.
Round-the-clock, in-home care costs $180,000 per year. It costs over $80,000 a year to live in a nursing home, and assisted living costs $43,000 a year. These high price tags weigh heavily on aging Americans and their families as they try to plan for future long-term care needs.
Most Americans want to age in their homes, but they need help to stay there, relying heavily on family members and friends for day-to-day assistance. Uncompensated caregivers, like our witness Kristina Brown, are the unsung heroes in many of these cases.
Often their own health, finances, and family relationships become strained as they take on caregiving roles. Exacerbating these challenges is our county’s failure to guarantee paid family and medical leave compared to other industrialized countries.
I want to thank Kristina and all of our witnesses for being here today to courageously tell their personal stories and to share their expertise.
At this time, I’d like to do something a bit unusual. Our Ways and Means colleague and friend, Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, recently told me her family’s moving story of caring for loved ones experiencing dementia in old age. I’ll now yield to her so she can share her experiences with the Committee.
Thank you, Congresswoman, for your bravery and openness.
With that, I will recognize the Ranking Member, Mr. Brady, for an opening statement.