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Family caregivers struggle to fill the gap in affordable long-term support and services


Florida ranks 43rd in the nation for overall quality of long-term care for aging adults and people with disabilities, according to an AARP report.

Florida ranks well behind other states in supporting family caregivers, according to a new report by AARP.

The report, which acts as a state-by-state scorecard, evaluates the quality of long-term support and services for older adults, people with physical disabilities and caretakers.

In 2023, Florida was ranked 43rd in the nation for overall quality of care.

Screenshot of 2023 AARP Scorecard

During a press conference in September, AARP policy director Susan Reinhard said the demand is growing for long-term support and services as the U.S. population skews older.

By 2035, adults over age 65 will outnumber children under 18, according to U.S. Census Bureau data included in the report.

"It's really critical that we improve the aging experience for all Americans across the country," Reinhard said. "And our ability to get this right — it largely depends on our ability to care for our loved ones, as a society."

The AARP scorecard of statewide long-term support and services systems evaluates five categories of care:

  • Affordability and access
  • Choice of setting and provider
  • Safety and quality
  • Support for family caregivers
  • Community integration

In Florida, the report found two particular weaknesses in the affordability and access to long-term care and the lack of support offered to family caregivers.

Rita Choula, with AARP, said that the cost of long-term care, services like a home health aide or a private nursing home room, is out of reach for many older adults nationally.

For those who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to pay out of pocket for long-term support and services, family caretakers are overwhelmingly shouldering the cost of care for their loved ones.

"Unfortunately, family caregivers — those family members, friends, neighbors — account for 48 million Americans," Choula said. "And they are stretched thin ... emotionally, financially, and timewise."

Gabriella Paul covers the stories of people living paycheck to paycheck in the greater Tampa Bay region for WUSF. She's also a Report for America corps member. Here’s how you can share your story with her.

Copyright 2023 WUSF 89.7

Gabriella Paul