advocacy

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Caroline, madre de dos y maestra de preescolar, se convirtió inesperadamente en cuidadora familiar de su padre después de que este sufrió un derrame cerebral grave. Su padre, Tom, ya fallecido, perdió el uso del lado derecho de su cuerpo y su capacidad de hablar. Tras múltiples cirugías y tratamientos de rehabilitación, pudo vivir en su hogar con la ayuda de enfermeras. Pero Caroline era quien le proveía los cuidados diarios, como supervisar las citas médicas y encargarse de ciertas responsabilidades de enfermería, como administrar sus medicamentos. "Me convertí en la persona en la que mi padre podía confiar más que nadie en el mundo", comentó Caroline. "Llegué a ser su lugar seguro y su mejor amiga". En comunidades de todo Estados Unidos, los cuidadores familiares como Caroline atienden a sus padres, cónyuges y otros seres queridos, ayudándolos para que puedan permanecer en sus hogares, donde quieren estar. Sus tareas no son fáciles, pero las realizan por amor y compromiso. Es por eso que AARP está luchando por los derechos de los cuidadores familiares, y de sus seres queridos, en todos los estados. En el 2018, AARP impulsó políticas nuevas para conseguir más ayuda en el hogar, flexibilidad en el lugar de empleo, capacitación, alivio y más, lo que beneficiará a más de 30 millones de cuidadores familiares. Estos son algunos de los puntos destacados:
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The midterm elections are some 25 days away. And there are now 54 million smart speakers in the U.S. with more being purchased each day. In response, AARP has an innovative new "Raise Your Voice" smart speaker app designed to increase civic engagement of voters age 50 and older.
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El verano ha llegado, y se pronostican temperaturas muy altas en casi todo el país. De nuevo nos quedaremos en nuestros hogares, oficinas, cafés y centros comerciales con aire acondicionado. Y todo eso tiene un costo —un gran costo— en la forma de facturas mensuales de electricidad más altas que cualquier persona con ingresos fijos encontrará difícil de pagar. Lo que gastan los consumidores en electricidad para sus hogares se basa principalmente en cuánta energía consumen. Por eso es que los aumentos en las facturas de electricidad frecuentemente están relacionados con los cambios en la temperatura exterior. Según la U.S. Energy Information Agency, la familia típica en Estados Unidos pagará un promedio de $426 por la electricidad este verano, un aumento de aproximadamente un 3% en comparación con el verano pasado. A muchos jubilados, como Lucille Moore, residente de Indianápolis de 84 años, sencillamente no les alcanza el presupuesto para los gastos más elevados de los servicios públicos. "Muchos adultos mayores toman medicamentos costosos, y muchos no pueden salirse del presupuesto para pagar facturas inesperadas (de los servicios públicos) como esta", dice Moore. Moore, voluntaria de AARP Indiana y trabajadora jubilada de una fábrica de productos electrónicos, ya está luchando con su proveedor de electricidad, Indianapolis Power & Light Co. (IPL), por los aumentos inexplicables en su cuenta. Su factura de electricidad se disparó en febrero a $344, algo impresionante dado que ella normalmente paga unos $100 al mes. Algo que empeorará la situación para Moore y otras personas en Indianápolis es que IPL desea cobrar un cargo nuevo mensual que representa un aumento, de $17 a $27, para prácticamente todos los clientes de servicios públicos antes de que ni siquiera enciendan una luz. AARP Indiana está luchando contra este cargo —tanto como otras solicitudes de ingresos— con los que IPL recibiría $97 millones al año. Las oficinas estatales de AARP están trabajando arduamente para ahorrarles dinero a los consumidores como Lucille en sus facturas mensuales de servicios públicos. Estas son las actividades que se han llevado a cabo recientemente en varios estados:
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Summer is here, and for most parts of the country, it’s predicted to be a hot one. Once again, we’ll hover in air-conditioned homes, offices, coffee shops, and shopping malls. And all of that comes with a cost – a big cost – in the form of higher monthly electricity bills that anyone on a fixed income will find hard to swallow. The amount that customers spend on electricity for their homes is based primarily on how much power they use. That’s why upticks in electricity bills are often tied to changes in outside temperature. The typical U.S. household will spend an average of $426 for electricity this summer, an increase of about 3 percent from last summer, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. For many retirees, like 84-year-old Lucille Moore of Indianapolis, there just isn’t room in the budget for higher utility costs. “A lot of seniors are on expensive medication, and a lot of them can’t afford to deviate with unexpected (utility) bills like this,” says Moore. An AARP Indiana volunteer and retired electronics factory worker, Moore is already fighting her electricity provider, Indianapolis Power & Light Co., over unexplained recent spikes in her bill. Her electric bill shot up in February to $344, a shocker considering she’s usually charged about $100 a month. Making matters worse for Moore and others in Indianapolis, IPL wants to impose a new monthly charge of $27, up from $17, on nearly every utility customer before they even turn a light on. AARP Indiana is fighting this charge – along with other revenue requests – that would give $97 million a year for IPL. AARP state offices are working hard to save customers, like Lucille, money on their monthly utility bills. Here’s a look at recent activity in a few states:
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Junette, a family caregiver from Arkansas, understands the challenges of providing the best possible care for her adult daughter, Colleen. In 2007, Colleen was injured severely in a hit-and-run accident. Since that time, Junette, her husband, Johnny, and Colleen’s husband, Mark, have done everything possible to care for Colleen at home. They said, "Absolutely not!" when asked if Colleen should be placed in a nursing home. Now, Junette and Johnny help with caregiving responsibilities for Colleen, while Mark serves as her guardian. Adult guardianship is a process by which a state court appoints an individual to care for the well-being, and possibly finances, of another person who is unable to care for him or herself. Guardians can be family members, friends, or non-related professionals appointed by a judge. Across the country, we’ve seen an uptick in action to improve outdated guardianship laws, procedures, and practices. State legislators, judges, family advocates, and other stakeholders are working to:
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Earlier this month, the U.S. Small Business Administration hosted their annual National Small Business Week to recognize the nation’s top small businesses, entrepreneurs, small business advocates and champions. As I reflect back on it though, I see National Small Business Week as a perfect time to also talk about securing the financial future of those millions of hard-working Americans who power the engine of our economy - our small businesses. Today, a secure retirement is out of reach for millions of men and women who work for themselves or for small businesses. While Social Security is a critical piece of the puzzle, it is not enough to depend on. Many future retirees won’t be able to handle the rising costs of basic needs and health care. But as a small business owner, your primary responsibility is to focus on your business, making sure it’s running properly. You want to help your employees save for retirement, but you don't have the time or money to set up a plan for yourself, much less your employees. You want to hire and keep the best people and remain competitive with larger companies and the benefits they can offer their employees... but how? Thankfully several states are making a big difference for small business, and making retirement security for workers a priority, by creating Work & Save programs. To date, 10 states have already passed various Work & Save laws to help over 17 million Americans gain access to workplace savings options: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, and Washington. Work & Save provides an easy, low-cost retirement savings option to help small businesses give their employees a way to save and take control of their future.  It allows you as a business owner to access a simple, plug-and-play retirement option for your employees with little effort and no cost or risk on your part. Your employees are the lifeblood of your business. With Work & Save, your hard-working employees can save for retirement right out of their regular paycheck, so they can take control of their future. They will set-up their own account, always remain in control of their account, and retain it if they change jobs. AARP will continue to push for Work & Save programs all across the country so millions more can access these innovative programs - recognizing that every week is small business week in America! To learn more about Work & Save programs, please visit: aarp.org/myfuture. Would you like to volunteer with AARP? Visit  aarp.org/getinvolved . To stay up to date on our work in your state, and nationwide, sign up for our e-alerts AARP Advocates e-newsletter, follow me on Twitter @roamthedomes, or visit your state Web page.
4 Reasons to Watch State Offices in 2018
Simmering issues important to all older Americans and their families, like health and financial security, may escalate to a full boil in many state Capitols in 2018. Facing these challenges and opportunities head-on, AARP is already exhaustively at work throughout the country, fighting for the issues that matter and driving an innovative agenda focused on commonsense solutions without the clutter of partisanship. Last year, AARP State Offices achieved huge successes, including new supports for family caregivers, greater access to home and community based services, and new ways to save for retirement. This year, we will continue to find ways to better enable more people to live and age as they choose. Among our top priorities: Supporting Family CaregiversAbout 40 million family caregivers represent the backbone of our country’s care system, providing hours of unpaid care to their loved ones every day. Over the past two years, AARP state offices have worked with state legislators and governors to enact more than 150 new laws that support these unsung heroes. In 2018, AARP will continue to support family caregivers and their loved ones by advancing laws and policies that:
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In addition to advocating for older Americans in the halls of Congress, AARP staff and volunteers are working on the ground in all 50 states, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to make a difference in people’s lives through advocacy. This year, we have helped enact state policies to support more than 30 million family caregivers and provide thousands of workers with a new way to save for retirement.
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Recent news articles spotlight egregious acts conducted by court-appointed guardians against the older individuals entrusted in their care. These reports highlight some of the worst situations occurring within a system that requires expedited improvement, now.
RAISE Act
This week, the U.S. Senate began its consideration of the RAISE (Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage) Family Caregivers Act — an important piece of legislation that would start a national conversation about ways to aid Americans’ greatest support system — family caregivers. Thanks to the leadership and support of Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the bill was quickly approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee (which goes by the very appropriate acronym . . . HELP).
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