Throughout my work to support family caregivers across the states, and my own caregiving journey, first lady Rosalynn Carter has been an inspiration. She is not only a leader in caregiving advocacy, education, research and support, but knows firsthand the joys and challenges of caregiving. Mrs. Carter first became a family caregiver at age 12 when her father was diagnosed with terminal leukemia, and went on to care for other family members over the years. Today she stands as a powerful voice for family caregivers as president of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving.
This is why it is such an honor for AARP to receive the 2015 Rosalynn Carter Leadership in Caregiving Award for outstanding work performed in caregiving research, public awareness, and advocacy. Two key components of this work are AARP’s commitment to:
- Honoring and recognizing the vital work family caregivers do every day to help their parents, spouses and other loved ones live independently at home
- Fighting in states across the country for more support, help at home, workplace protections, training and more
I Heart Caregivers
To recognize family caregivers and all that they do, AARP launched an initiative in 2014 called I Heart Caregivers with a goal of shining a bright light on family caregiver stories. I’ve shared my story about caring for my parents — Mom and Pop — and invite you to do the same. Our stories are the road map to change and more support for family caregivers. To share your story and read others, visit aarp.org/iheartcaregivers.
Fighting for Family Caregivers
Across the states AARP is fighting for basic support, and commonsense solutions, to make family caregivers’ big responsibilities a little bit easier. So far in 2015, 30 state legislatures have taken action to help family caregivers and the loved ones for whom they care. Here are some of the ways:
- The Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act, to support family caregivers when their loved one goes into the hospital and to provide instruction on medical tasks they will need to perform once their loved one returns home
- Caregiver employee leave, so family caregivers don’t have to worry about losing pay — or their jobs — when they need to take time off to care for a loved one
- Respite care, to give family caregivers a much-needed break
- Cutting through red tape to give nurses more authority to help
- Making sure caregivers have access to the right resources in the community, such as home care and adult day care
- Helping family caregivers navigate financial challenges by making sure power of attorney and adult guardianship laws are consistent and honored from state to state
- and more!
Continuing our work to improve the lives of family caregivers, their loved ones and all older Americans, the AARP Foundation will use the award money from the Rosalynn Carter Institute recognition to support work on senior isolation.
Caregiving affects us all
AARP believes supporting family caregivers and their loved ones is a top priority for all of us because, in the words of Mrs. Carter,
“You have either been a caregiver, you are a caregiver, you will be a caregiver, or someone will care for you.”
If you’re a family caregiver, you’re not alone.
- To stay up to date or to get involved with AARP’s caregiving advocacy in the states, sign up for the AARP Advocates e-newsletter or visit your state Web page.
- For tools and resources, visit aarp.org/caregiving.
- To share your story and connect with others, visit aarp.org/iheartcaregivers.
- To find out how AARP is fighting for you, check out aarp.org/SupportCaregivers.
Elaine Ryan is the vice president of state advocacy and strategy integration (SASI) for AARP. She leads a team of dedicated legislative staff members who work with AARP state offices to advance advocacy with governors and state legislators, helping people 50-plus attain and maintain their health and financial security.
Follow Elaine on Twitter: @RoamTheDomes
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