More Support for 22 Million Family Caregivers

With 34 Bills Passed in 28 States, caregivers are getting more and more support for what they do

Jennifer Graham

The following content is created in consultation with AARP. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC Connecticut editorial staff. To learn more about AARP, visit

Every day AARP hears 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.”

Tish: “I hope we have my mom for many more years but having instruction from qualified medical professionals is what I really need.”

Iris: “One day my mom became ill and my life changed in a moment."

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 commonsense solutions to make 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 include the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protect Proceedings Jurisdiction Act, the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, and a modest caregiver tax credit gives family caregivers relief when using their own money to care for a loved one.

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.

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.

See where your state stands.

Elaine Ryan is the vice president of State Advocacy for AARP. She leads a team of legislative staff who work with AARP state offices to advance advocacy, helping people 50-plus attain and maintain their health and financial security.

Follow Elaine on Twitter: @RoamTheDomes

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