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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 aarp.org.

Jean, a former real estate planner from Old Saybrook, CT, was looking forward to retirement with thoughts of travel and more free time to do the things she loved. Her life changed dramatically, but not as she expected, several years ago when her mother suffered a massive heart attack. Jean was told by hospital staff to “say goodbye,” but her mother rallied. After being discharged home, Mom was living independently again. However, the ordeal had left her considerably weaker and more reliant on Jean than ever before.

Jean is not alone. She is one of more than 500,000 family caregivers in the state of Connecticut doing all they can to keep their loved ones safe and at home. The unpaid care they provide – everything from cooking, cleaning, transportation to doctor appointments and grocery shopping, to more medically oriented tasks, such as wound care and medication management – is valued at more than $5.9 billion annually. Thanks to new legislation advocated for by AARP Connecticut, family caregivers, like Jean, will receive more support and recognition for the critical role they play in their loved ones care. The Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable (CARE) Act, effective October 1, 2015 in Connecticut will assist patients and their family caregivers when they are transitioning home from the hospital by requiring hospitals to:

Provide patients the opportunity to designate a family caregiver

Attempt to notify the caregiver before the patient is discharged back home

Instruct the caregiver on the medical tasks—such as medication management, injections, wound care and transfers—that they will need to perform at home.

AARP worked with the CT Hospital Association, state legislators and other caregiver/patient advocates to push for passage of this commonsense legislation that will not only help caregivers as they take on the task of caring for their family members, but will go a long way towards reducing costly hospital readmissions.  By recognizing and providing caregivers with necessary information and instruction they need before leaving the hospital, they are better able to keep their loved ones safe and at home.

Request your free CARE Act wallet card to keep with your health insurance card. This card will provide you with quick access to the information you need to know about the CARE Act the next time you or a loved one is hospitalized.

“At the end of the day, the primary goal is making sure my mother is safe,” says Jean.

The CARE Act offers up a commonsense, no cost solution that will make things a little easier for her and the thousands of other family caregivers in Connecticut.

Ian MacDonald, a former AARP intern, contributed to this article.

Download the 2015 Connecticut Caregiver Resource Guide

For additional AARP resources for caregivers, visit aarp.org/caregiving.

Share your caregiving story at iheartcaregivers.org
 

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