The value of unpaid family care is huge. Although policy change is underway, more robust action is needed to support caregiving families.
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:
Having a loved one in the hospital can be a stressful and emotional experience — especially if you don’t have the support you need. Each day, 40 million family caregivers help older parents, spouses, children with disabilities and other loved ones live independently at home. They help with bathing and dressing, manage finances, stand by their loved one’s side when they go into the hospital, care for them when they return home, and so much more.
“Taking care of my mother with Alzheimer's was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life. When I was in the U.S Navy, I had the 2nd most dangerous job in the world by working the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. Yes, it was harder than that.” – Ray
At 40 million strong, family caregivers are the backbone of our care system, helping parents, spouses and other loved ones live independently at home — where they want to be.
In August of 2014, Mary’s mother Eartha was discharged from the hospital after a short stay — an event that would have lasting consequences. When Mary arrived at the hospital that day, Eartha was ready to go, dressed and sitting in a wheelchair with a list of medications on her lap. Never given instructions on her mother’s new prescriptions, Mary missed out on a key piece of information — one of the medications was only meant to be given for a very short time. This was discovered months later, but it was too late. Eartha’s kidneys had been damaged irreversibly by the medication and were only working at 10 percent. Mary was given the choice to start her mother on dialysis or begin hospice care.
In preparing Mom’s medication, my 90-year-old Pop would fill a syringe using the light of the kitchen window to see if the dosage was correct. He set up the nebulizer on a table with handwritten step-by-step instructions to remind him how to operate it. Today, millions of family caregivers like Pop perform complex medical tasks that at one time would have been administered only by medical professionals.
This month, as state legislative sessions start kicking off across the country, AARP, too, will go to work — fighting for you and your family. In all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, we’ll be fighting to make sure your voice is heard, focusing on the key issues you’re facing front and center, in your daily life.
As I flew into Biloxi, the storm clouds parted and a rainbow appeared. Maybe it was a sign that good things are ahead for Mississippi family caregivers and the parents, spouses and other loved ones they care for.
This year I had the honor of meeting Kyllian, a young New Jerseyan who, as a teenager, was a caregiver for her father. Throughout his battle with cancer, she would come home after high school every day to care for him.
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