Cyndie’s dad suffered a stroke seven years ago. She moved him from Pennsylvania to her home in Wisconsin so she could take care of him. It isn’t always an easy road, but Cyndie is thankful for the precious time she gets to spend with her father.
Francesca and her family moved to Florida to care for her aging mother, leaving their home of 27 years in Connecticut. Her role as caregiver grows each month.
Althea’s sister Joyce is a partial quadriplegic and survivor of both an aneurysm and colon cancer. From her home in North Carolina, Althea helps with Joyce’s care in Tennessee.
Cyndie, Francesca and Althea are three of the 42 million family caregivers who give their hearts to help their parents, spouses, aunts, uncles, and other loved ones live at home — where they want to be. They drive to doctors’ appointments, bathe and dress their loved ones, manage finances and more. They may even be appointed their loved ones’ legal guardian.
Unfortunately, Cyndie, Francesca and Althea all live in states that have not passed the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdictions Act (UAGPPJA) , meaning the states might not recognize a guardianship appointment from other states. For example, if Cyndie became her father’s guardian in Pennsylvania, she could have to repeat the lengthy, expensive, and often emotionally taxing process again in Wisconsin.
Being a family caregiver is a big job, and it doesn’t need to be any harder. Caring for our loved ones across state lines should be consistent when it comes to the law. Fortunately, 40 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico have already passed UAGPPJA to support family caregivers and protect the loved ones they care for. UAGPPJA simply:
- Outlines a set of rules for transferring guardianship from one state to another.
- Allows states to recognize and register guardianship orders from other states.
- Creates a clear process for determining jurisdiction by designating the “home state.”
- Protects seniors by giving the court information and authority to act on abuse and exploitation.
AARP is fighting for family caregivers, like Cyndie, Francesca and Althea, who care across state lines, and we’re making progress in the 10 states — Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Texas, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Wisconsin — and the Virgin Islands who still haven’t passed UAGPPJA. Here are the highlights:
- The New Hampshire State Senate recently passed UAGPPJA, and the bill is now being considered by the House.
- Georgia and Rhode Island introduced UAGPPJA this year.
AARP will continue to fight until UAGPPJA becomes law in every state to ensure that older people and their family caregivers — especially those who provide care across state lines — have the protection they deserve.
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.