Elaine Ryan

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It was a few days before Christmas when our family got the news that Mom would be in the hospital for the holidays. Family caregiving can be tough enough, but somehow it is a bit tougher when your loved one is in the hospital. My siblings and I sprang into action to develop a list of people who could visit Mom in the hospital on Christmas. We thought of presents like a new robe and slippers, a hair appointment when she came home to us, some music to lift her spirits. When we visited the hospital on Christmas Eve, Mom handed us her Christmas wish list. “Please get me everything on the list,” she said. On the list — a fruit basket, chocolates, restaurant gift certificates, lottery tickets and more. “It’s for the nurses and staff. I need to thank them tomorrow.” And, with that simple statement, Mom reminded us of the spirit of the season — it’s in giving that we receive.
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Debra from New Jersey is on the verge of losing her house to foreclosure because she can’t keep up with paying the bills and helping her mom, who has dementia, remain at home. To keep Mom out of a nursing home, Debra is responsible for taking care of her 24/7. This can be a huge juggling act, involving bathing and dressing, preparing meals, managing medications, coordinating activities and more. Add in full-time employment, and life can become quite complicated, even though Debra hires an aide to stay with Mom while she’s on the job.
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For five years Michele from Montana, didn’t have access to affordable health care. She didn’t go to the doctor because she couldn’t afford it; this scared her. When health care laws began to change, Michele began to dream about what it would be like to have health coverage again, and how she would take better care of herself. But when many others gained access to affordable care last year, Michele did not. Instead, she was one of millions of hard-working Americans who fell into the new coverage gap.
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BREAKING UPDATE 5/15: Oklahoma becomes the first state in the nation to enact the CARE Act!  SB 1536, also known as the CARE Act, has been signed by Governor Mary Fallin and will take effect November 1, 2014. The bill will help the 600,000 family caregivers in Oklahoma when their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home.  
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I was a family caregiver for my Mom and Pop for more than 15 years. After all they'd done for me, it was my pleasure to care for them. Through the years, we were in and out of a dozen hospitals and rehabilitation centers. Each time at discharge, I was handed a dizzying array of responsibilities to ensure my parents recovered from illness and regained their health and happiness. Medication changes, wound care, nebulizers and more became part of our post-discharge regimen. But the tasks were intimidating. I wasn't a trained medical professional.  And the consequences of making a mistake in their care weighed heavily on me.
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