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OP-ED | The Need to CARE for Family Caregivers

by | Feb 8, 2015 11:00am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Aging, Health Care, Insurance, Opinion, Health Care Opinion, State Capitol

Deanna was a single, working mother with two daughters in college when her mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

Over time, Deanna was forced to quit her job and take on more and more of her mother’s care as her father’s own health began to deteriorate and he fell deeper into despair about what was happening to his wife. After her Mom passed away, Deanna’s father was diagnosed with dementia and she began a second, 10-year long labor of love caring for him.

Deanna is not alone. Her story is one of many documented as part of the AARP’s I Heart Caregivers project.

According to the Legislative Commission on Aging, there are more than 500,000 Connecticut residents who provide care every day to their loved with tasks such as bathing, dressing, finances, transportation, and medical care. The total economic impact of this unpaid care is estimated to be $5.8 billion.

This silent army is the backbone of elder care in our state. Without the help of family caregivers, too many of our seniors would end up in costly institutions — often paid for by the state, through Medicaid.

Today, according to the AARP, the average family caregiver is a 49-year-old female taking care of an older woman, usually her mother; she does this for nearly five years. She will devote at least 20 hours a week to helping her loved one with tasks like bathing and dressing, meal preparation, transportation, and chores around the house. She also has a full or part-time job.

Many of these caregivers feel unprepared to perform the medical tasks necessary to keep their loved ones out of the hospital and in the community at home — where they want to be.

The Caregiver, Advise, Record, and Enable (CARE) Act is designed to change that, and to empower and educate these individuals who work tirelessly to care for their loved ones.

The Act, which I am a proud supporter of, would require hospitals to:

1) provide each patient with the opportunity to designate a caregiver upon the patient’s admission to the hospital;

2) notify the designated caregiver if the patient is to be discharged to another facility or back to his or her home, and;

3) provide the caregiver with instructions on how to perform medication management, wound care, injections or other medical tasks for the patient when the patient returns home.

Family caregivers do remarkable things every day to care for their loved ones — but this labor of love is not without its challenges. More than three in 10 family caregivers are very or extremely emotionally stressed. That stress is, not surprisingly, increased for family caregivers who provide assistance for more than 21 hours a week, sacrifice time away from family and friends, or live with the loved one for whom they are caring.

As we try to rein in health care costs, reduce costly hospital readmissions and trips to the emergency room, passage of Connecticut’s CARE Act is paramount.

To read more stories like Deanna’s, or to share your own, visit www.IHeartCaregivers.org. To help support the CARE Act in Connecticut, contact your local legislator through the CGA website.

State Senator Tony Hwang is in his fourth term in the Connecticut General Assembly and first term as State Senator of the 28th District, which encompasses Fairfield, Easton, Newtown and portions of Weston and Westport.

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Comments

(6) Archived Comments

posted by: Biff Winnetka | February 8, 2015  3:21pm

Tony,

Nice, safe, constituent focused issue, but you have MUCH bigger fish to fry in Hartford.

Let’s see some OP-EDs from you on the state budget, State spending, tax relief, the exodus of taxpayers and businesses to other states…and a host of other more important issues to the larger welfare of the state.

Time to step up to the plate and get out of the “politically safe issue” zone.

Or are you just like all the other go along to get along, fiddle while the state burns, Hartford politicians???

@HypocriLib

posted by: middleoftheroad | February 9, 2015  11:28pm

As someone who was recently and unexpectedly thrust into the role of a caregiver, I thank you for your efforts, Sen. Hwang,  and those of AARP. 

If one doesn’t think this is as important as any other issue to the welfare of a rapidly aging state, I have to wonder if that someone is speaking from ignorance. Yes, it’s important to attract businesses and people to the state.  It’s also important to value the people who are here and our parents.  If you want to stave off a mass exodus, you also need to recognize the value of the humans beings who are currently here and have spent their lives giving to this state. The two concepts, attracting people to the state and recognizing the importance and stressors of caregivers, are not mutually exclusive, Biff.

posted by: Biff Winnetka | February 10, 2015  5:39pm

@middleoftheroad

I’m not so sure where you read in my post that I felt the issue Tony Hwang is editorializing about was not important?
My point, again, and I’ll try to make it more clearly for you, is that we live in a reality defined by limited time and limited resources.  The question I raised for Mr. Hwang is “What are your priorities” in this limited resource state?  When he writes an Op-Ed on an issue, as important as it may be, such as the proposed CARE Act when there are MUCH bigger issues plaguing the state, it makes me question his ability to effectively prioritize his time and the state’s resources…which are really the state citizen’s resources.  The world is full of Needs, Wants, and Wishes.  And in CT there are CRITICAL needs.  When I see a state representative focusing limited time, energy and resources on an issue that at best rises to the “Want” level I question his ability as an executive decision maker.
So I stick by my challenge to Mr. Hwang…are you just like all the other go along to get along, fiddle while the state burns, Hartford politicians???
Where’s your Op-Ed on the state’s growth crushing level of taxation, Tony?  Where’s your Op-Ed on Hartford sending unfunded mandates to budget stretched municipalities, Tony?  Where’s your Op-Ed on the Tenet deal fiasco, Tony?  I could go on an on. But I really do believe Tony just wants to play it safe and live to be re-elected.

@HypocriLib

posted by: lkulmann | February 10, 2015  9:06pm

So, caregivers not only take care of loved ones who become elderly and frail at home, but when they’re hospitalized they provide care there as well. WRONG! So, Nursing Homes and Home Care Services are paid for by the State through Medicaid. WRONG AGAIN! Please allow me to clarify the inaccurate information in this article. Number one, caregivers require respite. Respite is a necessity in maintaining good health and a much needed break from the demands of a caregiving role. Hospitalization of the loved one being cared for at home allows the caregiver relief to ‘recharge the battery’ and do a few extras around the house etc…we don’t put them to work caregiving in the hospital too. We have healthcare workers to do that. Number two, Medicaid is a FEDERALLY funded program ADMINISTERED by the State of CT vs paid for by the state through Medicaid. Lets make that very clear please. “As we try to rein in healthcare costs” we line corrupt political pockets with OUR nations tax money that belongs to Medicaid recipients. Rein in healthcare costs by cutting out overly inflated seven figure yearly salaries and deadwood middle management six figure salaries paid for by Medicare/Medicaid dollars.

posted by: Biff Winnetka | February 12, 2015  8:58pm

OK Tony,

How about an Op-Ed on Connecticut being DEAD LAST of these 50 states in job growth.

You’ve had four terms in the CT General Assembly…you own this mess.  Now how about manning up and getting in the fight instead of hiding behind politically safe issues while you accrue seniority, and dinner party invitations, in Hartford and Newtown.

So many males masquerading as men!

@HypocriLib

posted by: lkulmann | February 17, 2015  7:38pm

Just in case I’m not being understood let me make myself crystal clear. CT is purposely keeping the poor, poor and the rich, rich. The poor, disabled, immigrants, unemployed, indigent, chronically ill and on and on bring in lots of federal funding. Pregnant? unemployed? welcome! I’m all for it but the money never gets to the unfortunate disadvantaged folks. If you think “who cares as long as I’m doing just fine!” You’ll be next on the chopping block. Anyone and everyone is disposable to the criminal minded elitists. This article confirms the elitist agenda. Homecare means everybody takes care of their own at home. Financially UNassisted with the federal money collected intended for us lining 1% pockets. Pay my taxes! Get a job! Self funded?! Wake up people. Open your eyes….

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