You may be a family caregiver, and if you’re not, you’re likely to become one.
The numbers are surprising: 419,000 people in New Mexico, or one in five, do everything from providing meals and baths to administering medical care for a loved one. About one-fourth see to Alzheimer’s patients.
The typical caregiver is a 46-year-old woman caring for her mother, but caregivers are often older. And she works full- or part-time. Many have had to reduce their hours, sacrificing income and retirement benefits.
Hispanics and Native Americans provide care at a higher rate than the general population, the state says.
If the state had to pay for this care, which accounts for 80 percent of long-term care and allows some people to stay in their own homes, it would cost $3.5 billion a year.
(These numbers are probably low because they focus on families. Offhand, I know of three instances in which friends teamed up to care for terminally ill individuals with no living relatives.)
This year, state government stepped up.
Recently the state Aging and Long-Term Services Department announced its New Mexico State Plan for Family Caregivers.