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.

A Higher Utility Bill Before You Even Turn On the Lights?

Imagine this: You live on a fixed income and work hard to budget your money. You are very conscious about how you use your utilities. Yet, no matter how much electricity you use, your bill keeps going up. This scenario is far from hypothetical. Many utility companies across the country have a “customer charge,” or mandatory monthly fee, that remains the same — no matter how much electricity you use. This means when a utility company raises its customer charge, …

Fighting for Family Caregivers State by State

“Believe you can and you are halfway there.” While at the North Dakota State House fighting for family caregivers last week, I thought of these inspiring words by President Teddy Roosevelt. I believe we can, state by state, bring commonsense solutions and support to family caregivers. These unsung heroes give their hearts every day caring for older parents, spouses and other loved ones — and it’s time we gave them more help with the challenges they encounter: Juggling work and …

28 States + 34 Bills Passed = More Support for 22 Million Family Caregivers

Every day we hear from family caregivers like Marcus, Tish and Iris about the challenges they face helping their older loved ones remain at home — where they want to be. Marcus: “Having a full-time job and coping with Mom’s illness has got to be one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever had to do. She is my light and my darkness all at the same time.” Tish: “I hope we have my mom for many more years, but …

State Legislator Stands Up for Family Caregivers While Battling Cancer

Let me start by saying, thank you State Sen. Debbie Smith (Nev.) for your leadership, courage and determination to fight for family caregivers and the older parents, spouses and other loved ones they help to remain in their homes. When Sen. Smith first talked to AARP about the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act, she cared for her mom. By the time the bill passed the state legislature, Sen. Smith needed a caregiver herself, as she battled cancer. The CARE Act …

How Much Have You Saved for Retirement?

How much have you saved for retirement? Five hundred dollars? Five thousand? Fifty thousand? If you have even $5 saved, you’re one step ahead of nearly half of working-age households — who have ZERO saved for retirement. This startling fact is just one of the reasons AARP is fighting for Work and Save, a commonsense solution to help individuals save toward a secure retirement  through an easy payroll deduction at work — an option not available to many employees. Work …

Rising Utility Rates Put Seniors at Risk

As we enter the heart of summer, the temperature isn’t the only thing on the rise — utility bills are increasing, too. For seniors especially, keeping cool in these hot summer months isn’t just a luxury, it’s a necessity for health and safety — one that can be hard to afford for some. As my colleague Joan McCarty of AARP New York simplifies it, “every extra dollar that goes to a utility bill is a dollar less for food and …