Isolated elders, out of work Millennials and a rapidly aging population with a host of different care needs are three of America’s most pressing social issues.
While lawmakers banter back and forth about how to solve these multi-faceted problems, one woman has decided to unite them underneath a single cohesive solution: A Caregiver Corps. You can help by signing this petition.
The idea struck Janice Lynch Schuster, herself a caregiver to a father who’s a cancer survivor, as she participated in a Twitter discussion about how the government could help improve the lives of older Americans.
“Let’s have a Peace Corps for older adults,” someone suggested.
That’s all the inspiration Schuster needed.
“The idea just hit me like a bolt of lightning,” she says. “I was going to launch a petition to create a Caregiver Corps modeled on the Peace Corps and, from there on, it was a done deal.”
A few days and 150 signatures later, her petition for the creation of a “Caregiver Corps” went live. (Sign the petition to create a Caregiver Corps here.)
Teaching younger generations how to care
Modeled after other philanthropic initiatives, such as the Peace Corps and Teach for America, a potential “Caregiver Corps” would draw on the untapped resources of both the young and the recently-retired to help take care of America’s elderly and provide some much-needed respite for some of the country’s more than 60 million family caregivers.
The program would require a two-year commitment. Volunteers would be provided with requisite training in elder care basics, be matched with different seniors based on talents and interests, and be offered the typical incentives, including student loan forgiveness, educational credit and possibly a monetary reimbursement.
Schuster also envisions another, less tangible, yet far more valuable benefit of participation: a shared sense of compassion.
“In the course of performing these duties, volunteers would develop and cultivate a new understanding of old age, and a deep respect for older adults,” she says. “At the same time, older adults would see how keen young adults are to make a difference in the lives of other people. That keen interest can be tapped to help fill the increasingly empty pipeline of people who enjoy services aimed at helping older people.”
Continue reading to learn how you can help make the “Caregiver Corps” a reailty…
Caregiver Corps: Easing Front-Line Family Caregivers’ Burdens originally appeared on AgingCare.com.