Is New Jersey doing all it can to support the state's estimated 1.75 million unpaid caregivers?

A measure moving through the New Jersey Legislature creates a task force whose main focus would be the individuals providing daily care to family and friends, and never getting reimbursed in the process.

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After evaluating the current services available and the true depth of a caregiver's role, the "New Jersey Caregiver Task Force" would make recommendations for ways to improve and expand assistance.

"There's a huge toll on the individuals that care for loved ones in their homes," Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, D-Camden, told New Jersey 101.5, suggesting this group of individuals has been "largely ignored."

"I think we're ill-prepared for the Baby Boomer generation," she added.

Getting in-home care from family or friends can help an individual avoid the high costs of the state and center-based care, Lampitt noted. But due to the emotional and physical demands of the role, caregivers generally experience more health complications and higher mortality risks than non-caregivers.

The number of adults in the state who need assistance with daily living activities is expected to double by 2020, according to the bill.

The task force would consist of 11 members, including the Commissioner of Human Services, the president of the New Jersey Chapter of AARP and the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness New Jersey, along with three public members who serve as caregivers themselves.

The panel would have 12 months to submit a report to the governor and legislature.

The measure was advanced by an Assembly panel in late November. It received unanimous support from the full Senate in June.

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