In celebration of Women's History Month, AARP Arkansas is sharing resources and information affecting women ages 50 and up, specifically women who find themselves in the challenging role of caregiver.
A recent AARP study found only three in 10 women, or roughly 29%, said they have given serious thought to how they will live independently if they need assistance with their daily lives.
Mandy Shoptaw, associate state director for communications and outreach for AARP Arkansas, said women live roughly 8% longer than men, and a recent cost analysis showed the most common caregiving arrangement is a female caring for another female.
Shoptaw noted more than 65% of caregivers report an emotional strain because of their responsibilities.
"The caregiving guide is a great resource," Shoptaw pointed out. "There's also some guidelines for people who are preparing to care. So checklists and things that you might need to go through. We have other resources available that can also help to keep your loved one safe. And one of them is the Fraud Watch Network."
Shoptaw explained people can sign up to join the network to keep up with the latest scams. She noted the Federal Trade Commission said between 2017 and 2021, there was a reported monetary loss from one particular type of fraud, the so-called romance scam, of more than $547 million dollars.
The report showed more than three in four caregivers spend their own money on care expenses, on average more than $7,000 a year. AARP supports legislation to increase income and wages for caregivers.
"We want to make sure that those people are compensated fairly," Shoptaw stressed. "There's a lot of research being done right now into fair wages, and what kinds of legislation need to happen to ensure that these wonderful carers are receiving the financial compensation for the work that they do."
Another emerging aspect of caregiving is the need for livable communities. Shoptaw said rezoning residences to allow for multigenerational dwellings and tiny houses would allow a loved one to live independently longer. Women can visit states.aarp.org/arkansas for more caregiving information.