Supporting Veterans and Family Caregivers at Home

BREAKING UPDATE 11/14/14: The CARE Act was signed into law in New Jersey on Nov. 13th, 2014 and will take effect  May 12th, 2015.   Several months ago,  I met Doug and Michelle Mercer of McAlester, Okla. Doug had been home from Iraq for only four days when he suffered debilitating injuries in a serious motorcycle accident. Three and a half years later, he is still recovering brain function, he uses a wheelchair and he needs help 24/7. >> Sign up for …

The Who, What, When, Where of Voting

On November 4th, like millions of Americans, I’ll head to the polls to cast my ballot. I’ve done my homework, know where the candidates stand on important issues — like financial security and support for family caregivers — and I’m ready to vote. >> Sign up for the AARP Advocacy Newsletter But even though I’ve been voting for years, I still need to check some basic facts: When do I vote? The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, …

When Mom’s a Republican and Pop’s a Democrat

My mom was born in the same year that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution — giving women the right to vote — was ratified. She was a daughter of immigrant parents, who came to America in pursuit of freedom and opportunity. And my mom relished her right to vote. I have very early memories of walking with my mom, pop, brother and sister blocks to our polling place located at Outwater Park. It was a family tradition. I remember …

Caregiving Takes a Team

Ah — autumn! The crisp cool weather, the colorful leaves … and the smell of football is in the air. This time of year I’m reminded of the days of my youth when I spent countless hours watching my pop and brother practicing football in the backyard, watching high school games my brother starred in, and watching our beloved Buffalo Bills on TV. At a very young age, I was raised to be a football fan. In the years between …

How One Community Supports Its Hidden Heroes, Family Caregivers

As I drove from Billings, Mont., to Sheridan, Wyo., I saw a sign for “Buffalo 36 miles.” Then it occurred to me that something felt strangely familiar. I grew up in a town called Lockport, about 29 miles from Buffalo, N.Y. So I researched a bit more. Sheridan has a population of 17,800; 20,000 live in Lockport. Sheridan gets about 72 inches of snow a year; Lockport posts a competitive 69 inches. And though my hometown doesn’t have mountain ranges, …

Nurses Are Lifesavers

My pop, like many family caregivers, used his ingenuity to solve problems. This time, Pop was trying to figure out an easier way to help my mom out of her wheelchair and into bed. Pop was in his 90s, and anything would make it easier on him. So he rigged up a ramp from cinder blocks and particle board. If he could get her chair going at the right speed and right angle, he could run up the ramp and …