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 …

Breaking News: N.J. Legislature Passes CARE Act to Support Family Caregivers

BREAKING UPDATE 11/13/14:  Gov. Chris Christie signed the CARE Act into Law.     Just minutes ago, the New Jersey Assembly passed the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act. Already approved by the Senate without a single no vote, the CARE Act now heads to Gov. Chris Christie for his signature. Once enacted, it will support the 1.75 million family caregivers in New Jersey as their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home. What is the CARE Act? The …

5 Tips for Family Caregivers

I recently spent a weekend with eight of my college roommates for our annual get-together. Through the years we’ve always shared our life events, so it came as no surprise that our conversation turned to the topic of family caregiving. Like millions of fiftysomething women in the U.S. today, my former roomies are struggling to navigate the health care system on behalf of their parents – who now turn to them for help. “Information is power,” I told them. “So let …

Help for Family Caregivers

While traveling to Erie, Pa., for a town meeting on family caregiving, I was reflecting on my family roots. A little more than 100 years ago, my Lithuanian grandparents immigrated to America and made Shenandoah, Pa., their first hometown. My grandfather worked in the coal mines and my grandmother, fluent in six languages, worked various jobs while raising five children – one of whom was my mom. My grandparents taught me about hard work and perseverance, and my parents taught …

Supporting Seniors, Family Caregivers: Where Does Your State Rank?

My sister always says, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  I was reminded of this adage when I heard Loren Colman, Minnesota assistant commissioner of continuing care, explain how Minnesota is consistently ranked at the top of the nation when it comes to providing support for seniors and their family caregivers. “We planned,” he said.  Indeed, Minnesota developed a plan decades ago to transform the way the state would deliver long-term care services to older residents in their …