Family Caregiver Support

Family Caregivers are the lifeblood of care in the United States. In 2000, The National Family Caregiver Support Program was established as an addition to the Older Americans Act of 1965. The purpose of the Family Caregiver Support Program is to provide support and services to family and informal caregivers to support caregivers in providing care for their loved ones in the home and community for as long as possible. These services can help to reduce the stress, depression, and anxiety that can come with caregiving. 

The South Carolina Department on Aging works with 10 regional Area Agencies on Aging to administer the Family Caregiver Support Program. 

Are you a caregiver looking for support?

This page has information about our agency’s mission and programs. If you are a caregiver in need of support, please visit GetCareSC.com to find resources.

Caregiving Statistics

According to AARP, an estimated 53 million adults in the United States are caring for an adult or child with special needs.  

  • 1 in 5 (21.3%) Americans have provided care for a loved one in the past 12 months (AARP)
  • 61% of family caregivers are in the workforce (AARP)
  • 61% of caregivers (of adults 50+) are women (AARP)
  • 24% of caregivers are caring for more than one care recipient (AARP)
  • Average age of care recipient (over 50) is 74.8 years old (AARP)
  • Average hours of care per week is 22.3 hours (AARP)
  • 22% of caregivers report that it is difficult to maintain their own health because of caregiving (AARP) 

Available Services

The Family Caregiver Support Program provides the following services to informal caregivers:

  • Information to caregivers about available services and assistance to caregivers in gaining access to the services
  • Referral for counseling, support groups, and caregiver training
  • Respite care; and
  • Supplemental services to complement the care provided.

Respite and self-care overview

Respite is a short term break for Family Caregivers. Respite can take place in the home, an adult day facility, an assisted living facility, or skilled nursing facility. These respite breaks can range from a few hours to a few days at one time, depending on the needs of the Family Caregiver.  

Taking care of a loved one can cause caregivers to become burned out and overly tired. Caregivers not having adequate time for self-care can lead to caregiver illness and premature institutionalization for their care recipient.  

Eligibility for services

You may qualify for Family Caregiver Support Program services through your local Area Agency on Aging if you meet at least one of the follow criteria:

  • Adult family members or other informal caregivers, 18 and older, providing care to individuals 60 years of age and older who require assistance with some, or all, activities of daily living.
  • Adult family members or other informal caregivers, 18 and older, providing care to individuals of any age with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia. 
  • Older relatives (not parents) age 55 and older providing care to children under the age of 18;
  • Older relatives, including parents, age 55 and older providing care to adults ages 18-59 with disabilities

Impact

In the last fiscal year, South Carolina’s Family Caregiver Support Program served 3,331 Caregivers. Through grants provided by the Older Americans Act of 1965 and State Respite funding, $4.7 million were spent in services to family caregivers to include respite vouchers, caregiver education, support groups, and supplemental services in State Fiscal Year 2022 (July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022). More than 220,000 hours of respite were provided in State Fiscal Year 2022. Family Caregiver Advocates, located in 10 region Area Agencies on Aging, provided more than 820 of referrals for long-term caregiver services outside the Family Caregiver Support Program.  

Seniors Raising Children

The Older Americans Act calls for “Older Relative Caregivers,” ages 55 and older, to be served when caring for a child (under 18) outside of their own biological child in the role of a primary caregiver. In South Carolina this program is distinguished by the title “Seniors Raising Children.” 

In State Fiscal Year 2022, 228 Seniors Raising Children clients were served through approximately $187,000. Services provided included: school related expenses, afterschool programs, extracurricular activities, summer camp, diapers and baby products, and more.
 
To be eligible for this program, the older relative caregiver must be providing care to the child in the role of primary caregiver, meaning that the child’s parents are not currently involved in the care of the child. Services are tailored to the needs of the region served.

To learn more about the program in your region, contact your local Area Agency on Aging. 

RAISE Caregiver Act and its relevance

Initial Report to Congress occurred in September 2021 and included 26 recommendations to improve and better coordinate federal, state, tribal, and community programs to support family caregivers. 

5 Priority Areas of Recommendations

  • Increased Awareness of family caregiving.
  • Integrating the caregiver into processes and systems from which they have been traditionally excluded, to include medical and financial institutions.
  • Increased access to services and supports to assist family caregivers.
  • Increased financial and workplace protections for caregivers.
  • Better and more consistent research and data collection.

You can find more information here.

LifeSpan Respite

Lifespan Respite Care programs are coordinated systems of accessible, community-based respite care services for family caregivers of children and adults of all ages with special needs (ACL)

South Carolina Department on Aging works in conjunction with the South Carolina Respite Coalition to ensure that respite is available to caregivers across all age groups.   

Dementia Care Specialist

The South Carolina Department on Aging created a Dementia Care Specialist Position, which is currently funded through a 2-year grant for Public Health Workforce through ACL. The goal of this role is to develop a community-based dementia care support role for persons and families living with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. 

Dementia statistics for SC / nationwide

According to The South Carolina Alzheimer’s Registry, 111,818 individuals living with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias (ADRD) had been identified as of 2017.  

Of South Carolinians over the age of 65, 11% were identified as having an ADRD diagnostic, while 51% of those over 85 had received a diagnosis. Of note, according to the Alzheimer’s Registry, at age 65 and older, African American South Carolinians are 45% more likely to have ADRD as are non-Hispanic whites.