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.
The phone rang one day when I was at work. It was my mom. “Come right away, Elaine, we need you,” she said. Mom had just driven Pop to the emergency room. I knew Pop must have been very sick, because Mom hadn’t driven a car in years.
As National Nurses Week concludes, I want to take a moment and thank all nurses — past, present, and future — for all that you do. I know firsthand the importance of nurses not only to patients, but to their families. During the 15 years I cared for my parents, nurses made a huge difference in our lives. There’s no doubt, caregiving takes a team, and so often nurses were a part of my family’s team.
This month, Gov. Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska state legislature made a smart move to remove the barrier that had prevented nurse practitioners from providing complete primary care for their patients. By cutting through the red tape, these elected officials have made more primary care clinicians available for Nebraskans in a variety of settings such as at home and in the community, medical offices, businesses like Walgreens, Target and CVS, and some workplaces. Nineteen other states have similar laws in place.
Today's sobering statistic: Almost 20 percent of people ages 55 to 64 have no retirement savings. And even among those who have saved, millions are facing a retirement "deficit" - meaning they will outlive their retirement savings by $57,000 on average per household.
Last week, I sat down with Adrienne Mitchell of MarketWatch to talk about what 57 million American workers lack: a way to save for retirement at work - leaving them with little opportunity to secure their financial future. Just think about this for a minute: For workers who do have access to a retirement savings plan in the workplace, such as a 401(k), this increases their savings rate by 1300%. And, no, that's not a typo.
I often hear from friends and family members that they're afraid they don't have enough saved for retirement, and the truth is, many Americans are not prepared for the future. As recently highlighted by the New York Times, the reason many are not financially prepared is because they don't have the right tools at work to help them save for their future. In fact, when individuals have a way to save through their workplace, their rate of savings goes up by a staggering 1300%. Yes, that's right: 1300%.
My Pop, a bus driver in Buffalo, worked until the mandatory retirement age of 70. He and my Mom lived on Social Security along with his modest pension. One Christmas, Pop couldn't get into the spirit of the season. The next day, he confided that the next year health care premium increases would consume his entire pension check, and then some. I can only imagine how my parents' lives would have been affected if Pop's pension had been cut in retirement.
National Nurses Week comes to a close today, and I am reminded of my mom's nurse, Sue. As my parents got older and Pop became Mom's caregiver, they needed more help. Sue came once a week for the months following Mom's return home from a rehabilitation center. She checked on Mom's health and trained Pop on how to care for Mom during the week. I am still so grateful for Nurse Sue and all that she did. She was one of the reasons Mom and Pop were able to stay safe at home, where they wanted to be, and out of a costly institution like a nursing home.
I saw Nebraska over the holidays with my boyfriend and his mom and my mom. It was a rather odd double date, come to think of it, but this isn't about that.
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