For citizens wanting to call attention to the growing need for quality elder care and support for family caregivers, here's a summary of what experts suggest.
The Federal Level
- Contact your senators and representatives in Congress about reforming health care to address needs in the last years of life.
- Demand national leadership -- contact the White House. In its report, "Taking Care," the President's Council on Bioethics called for a presidential commission on aging, dementia and long-term care. Could America's First Ladies also be engaged to focus on this issue? Caring and watching over elderly loved ones has touched their own lives already as they see their parents and other relatives age.
- Follow and support legislative efforts. In July 2003 two congressmen introduced legislation -- The Living Well with Fatal Chronic Illness Act -- to address the shortcomings in the health care system related to end-of-life care and help for caregivers (read a summary). The legislation never got a hearing. But with Democrats now controlling Congress, many expect similar legislation will be introduced in the new Congress.
The State Level
- Contact your governor and state legislators.
- Contact The National Governors Association.
- Contact The Association of State Units on Aging.
- Contact The National Academy for State Health Policy.
The Local and Personal Level
- Get involved with local community groups and agencies that focus on elder care, end-of-life care and support for caregivers.
- Become active on the issue of elder care within your own professional/business groups, with your health care providers and with other membership organizations such as AARP.