Elaine Ryan is the vice president of State Advocacy and Strategy Integration (SASI) in AARP's Government Affairs group. She leads a team of dedicated legislative staff who work with AARP state offices to advance advocacy with Governors and state legislators, helping people 50+ attain and maintain their long-term financial security and health.

Follow Elaine on Twitter: @RoamTheDomes.

States Start Shifting Focus to Help Seniors Live Independently, at Home

“We need to ‘spring’ your mother,” Pop, who loved prison movies, told me over the phone while asking me to come home that weekend. Mom had been in a rehabilitation center for two weeks following a bad fall and a hospital stay. Both she and Pop were ready for her to go home. My mom and pop, like most Americans, wanted to stay in their home and community as they aged. Pop became the primary family caregiver for Mom, and …

Sometimes Family Caregivers Need a Break

Every day for eight years, my Pop provided hands-on care for my mom, who faced a number of physical challenges.  At age 90, Pop was still helping Mom out of bed into her wheelchair, bathing and dressing her, making the meals, and doing the dishes, laundry and anything else that needed to be done. A few times a week, Pop would get out of the house for a trip to the grocery store and a few staples like bread, milk …

Pensions Are Promises. States Need to Keep Up Their End of the Deal

My Pop, a bus driver in Buffalo, worked until the mandatory retirement age of 70. He and my Mom lived on Social Security along with his modest pension. One Christmas, Pop couldn’t get into the spirit of the season. The next day, he confided that the next year health care premium increases would consume his entire pension check, and then some. I can only imagine how my parents’ lives would have been affected if Pop’s pension had been cut in …

Don’t Hang Up on Landlines Just Yet

As a family caregiver to Mom and Pop for many years, I know reliable technology can mean the difference between life and tragedy. Yet, in states across the country, phone companies that provide landline service are trying to force residents to switch to a new wireless phone option – one that does not work with many medical monitoring devices, like pacemakers and defibrillators, home security systems, and sometimes even 911. In New Jersey, for example, the phone company doesn’t want …

Work and Save: From Sea to Shining Sea

The problem with living in Washington, D.C., too long is that you start to forget all the exciting action happening outside this politics-crazed town. The truth is, the real action is taking place in state capitols around the country. Today I want to take a moment to highlight some of the victories and innovative solutions happening from Hartford to Olympia to help people save for the future and live independently as they age. I’m lucky enough to have worked for …

Give Nurses More Authority to Heal

National Nurses Week comes to a close today, and I am reminded of my mom’s nurse, Sue. As my parents got older and Pop became Mom’s caregiver, they needed more help. Sue came once a week for the months following Mom’s return home from a rehabilitation center. She checked on Mom’s health and trained Pop on how to care for Mom during the week.  I am still so grateful for Nurse Sue and all that she did. She was one of …