Tax credit would be welcome help for family caregivers
Long-term care insurance encouraged
January 19, 1999
From Correspondent Eileen O'Connor
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Clarissa Parker is typical of many of the 22 million Americans who care for an elderly parent while raising children of their own.
"Slowly the parent gives up their autonomy in every way, and they start to rely on you," Parker said.
Both her mother, Sally, and her father, Joseph, depended on Parker's help at the end of their lives.
As the bills piled up and their savings dwindled, Parker's worries mounted. A financial planner was able to step in and stretch the money. But the inheritance her parents had hoped to leave was practically gone.
"I think the government should definitely recognize people who are caring for parents long-distance," she said. "So you can keep your job, so you can keep money in the bank to take care of your own family and your own children."
The growing number of elderly with family caregivers, at an estimated loss of at least $11 billion a year in worker productivity, makes this a popular issue.
In his State of the Union address, President Clinton will ask Congress to pass legislation giving $1,000 in tax credits to the nearly 2 million Americans who care for and reside with disabled family members.
Experts call it a good first step.
"The $1,000 is not a panacea by any means," said Gail Hunt, executive director of the National Alliance for Caregivers. "It won't buy a lot of services, but it also encourages people to think of long-term insurance."
After her mother died, Clarissa took out a long-term care insurance policy on herself that will cover care, in home or out.
Still, she has no regrets for taking care of her own parents.
"I was with both my mother and father when they died," she said. "I think all children should be with their parents when they die."
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