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Sound Health is a recurring series that airs twice each month on WGLT's Sound Ideas program.Support for Sound Health comes from Carle Health, bringing care, coverage, support, healthcare research and education to central Illinois and beyond.

AARP pushes for $1,500 tax credit for Illinois' unpaid caregivers

Woman helps her aging mother at home
Ted S. Warren
AP file
AARP says Illinois caregivers provide $21 billion in unpaid care each year.

The senior advocacy group AARP says Illinois’ unsung and unpaid family caregivers deserve a new type of financial assistance from the state.

AARP points to its own recent survey which found that about 1.2 million Illinois caregivers provide $21 billion in unpaid care each year. In addition to the unpaid labor and stress of caring for a loved one, they incur out-of-pocket expenses like groceries, medical care, transportation and more, AARP said.

AARP is pushing for state lawmakers to approve a tax credit of up to $1,500, said AARP Illinois State Director Philippe Largent. Covered expenses would include adult day services, transportation, home modifications, legal or financial services, medical equipment, respite care, home care help, and assisted technology, he said.

“The need is so great. There are so many people who are in this position. The expense, the work, the time, the stress requires a response from policymakers, and I think there’s an appetite to do that. And if there isn’t, there ought to be,” Largent said.

WGLT asked Largent if he thinks we’re ready for the caregiving needs of the baby boomer generation, or generally those born between 1946 and 1964.

“My feeling is that we are not ready. But having the discussion now can help get us ready. The need for caregiving services – especially in the home, at the community level – far exceeds the capacity to provide that care. Having that conversation and becoming informed and taking the time to get informed, I think, will pay off and help close the gap,” Largent said.

Largent applauded policymakers for fully funding the Community Care Program within the Illinois Department on Aging, which aims to care for people in their homes. AARP also supported Illinois’ recently approved Paid Family Leave Act, which mandates nearly all Illinois employers give their workers a minimum of five paid days off, for any reason.

“No one should fear losing their job or taking a cut in pay as a result of having to take care of a loved one,” Largent said.

You can find more caregiver assistance on the East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging's website or on the AARP Illinois’ website.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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