The campaign trail is on fire these days, and the presidential and vice-presidential debates drew much attention from right and left-wingers alike, as well as those who haven't yet made up their minds about how to cast their vote next month. But one criticism hitting both candidates from all sides is the lack of attention placed on caregiving.
No policies for caregivers
Both President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney have heavily discussed support for modern families. Yet neither party has come forward with solid policies that would help working women or members of the Sandwich Generation.
The Guardian points out that "neither Romney nor Obama has offered a single policy idea on the campaign trail that would ease the burden of working families who are juggling demanding work schedules with care for children and elderly parents." Both candidates' wives have discussed a focus on family life -- but what about public support to help these families get the services they need?
What do caregivers need?
Caregivers need more public support that can help them balance the challenges of juggling work and caring for an elderly parent, and in many cases, caring for young children simultaneously. Neither candidate has mentioned policies that would provide tax breaks for working caregivers or anti-discrimination laws that would protect working adults who also have duties at home to care for aging loved ones.
Seniors face an uncertain future
It's already unclear how the proposed plans of both sides will directly impact the nation's seniors. Educated predictions and estimates aside, no one knows for certain how the plans of either side will affect seniors' ability to obtain necessary medical care. One thing, however, is for certain: Medicare and Medicaid will be undergoing major changes over the next few years.
According to The Huffington Post, Romney is under fire among disabled Americans for proposed cuts to Medicaid. Obama, on the other hand, has received constant criticism for Obamacare and his future plans for both Medicare and Medicaid, which critics say won't save seniors money in the long run. Many protesters don't support either candidate, saying neither are truly tuned in to the needs of the elderly and disabled.
But the current state of affairs doesn't look promising either. Cash-strapped states have already made cuts in the past few years due to the recession. And even if Romney's block grant plan isn't implemented, states will continue to seek ways to cut their own costs, likely affecting these programs.
Medicaid cuts mean more dependence on unpaid family caregivers
It's not just vulnerable seniors and disabled persons standing to lose valuable benefits under both the current and proposed systems. Those providing unpaid family care to loved ones -- a group already experiencing the impact of doing more advanced nursing tasks -- will be faced with picking up the slack. A decreased ability to seek professional medical care could worsen the health of many individuals, exacerbating the effects on already stressed caregivers and other loved ones.
What's the answer? Unfortunately, there's no clear cut solution. And seniors, disabled persons and their caregivers and loved ones have little impact on what's to come unless they take to the polls and vote on Election Day. But it extends beyond merely voting: Get out, stand up and let your voice be heard. Let our government know what the caregiving population needs in terms of support. Your voice matters.