28 States + 34 Bills Passed = More Support for 22 Million Family Caregivers

Every day we hear from family caregivers like Marcus, Tish and Iris about the challenges they face helping their older loved ones remain at home — where they want to be.

Marcus: “Having a full-time job and coping with Mom’s illness has got to be one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever had to do. She is my light and my darkness all at the same time.”

Tish: “I hope we have my mom for many more years, but having instruction from qualified medical professionals is what I really need. I am willing to learn if the system is willing to teach me.”

Iris: “One day my mom became ill and my life changed in a moment. I knew I could not leave her alone.”

Having helped my own mom and pop for 15 years, I understand first-hand the challenges — and rewards — this experience brings. Bottom line: While they wouldn’t have it any other way, family caregivers need support and recognition. 

Marcus, Tish and Iris are just three of about 40 million Americans caring for an older parent or loved one, helping them to live independently in their own homes. These family caregivers have a huge responsibility, but we can help with some basic support — and commonsense solutions — to make their big responsibilities a little bit easier. From laws that make sure family caregivers have the instruction and information they need when their loved ones leave the hospital, to programs that help them take a hard earned break, AARP has been fighting across the states because supporting family caregivers is a top priority for all of us.

So far in 2015, 28 states have taken action to help family caregivers and the loved ones they care for. Here are some of the ways how:

The CARE Act: The Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act supports family caregivers when their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home.

Financial Caregiving: Bills to help family caregivers navigate financial challenges.

Home- and Community-Based Care: Significantly increasing — or protecting against significant decreases in — the number of older adults who have access to state-funded services at home, like home care and adult day care.

Nurse Scope & Delegation: Bills to cut through the red tape and allow nurses to have the full authority to heal.

  • Increased scope of practice allows advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to serve as the primary or acute care provider of record.
  • Nurse delegation allows nurses to delegate and transfer authority to trained home care professionals in regular direct contact with patients.

Registry of Home Care Workers: Bills and regulations to allow family caregivers access to private-pay workers who can help provide care in the home.

Respite Care: Significantly increasing services that allow family caregivers to take a hard earned break.

Workplace Flexibility: Various bills to help working caregivers balance responsibilities at home and work. Flexibility may come through state improvements to the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or through employers’ paid and/or unpaid leave policies.

Where does your state stand?


And the year isn’t over yet. States across the country like California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Michigan and more are still fighting for family caregivers.

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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