AARP Foundation has filed a lawsuit on behalf of 82-year old nursing facility resident Gloria Single against Pioneer House nursing facility, RHF Foundation, and their corporate affiliates, charging that they illegally dumped her into a hospital. The suit contends that the defendants are willfully violating a State order requiring that they allow her to return home and seeks an injunction so she can return to Pioneer House to be with her 93-year old husband, who still lives there.
Ms. Single is joined as a plaintiff by the public interest organization California Long Term Care Ombudsman Association (CLTCOA). According to the complaint, CLTCOA “has taken the extreme measure of bringing this case because nursing facilities, such as Pioneer House, routinely ignore State Readmission Orders because the State refuses to enforce them itself.”
Pioneer House sent Ms. Single to a hospital, then refused to allow her to return home after the hospital medically cleared her to leave. In response, Ms. Single exercised her right to an administrative hearing before the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), where both sides submitted evidence and sworn testimony. After she prevailed at that hearing and DHCS ordered the facility to readmit Ms. Single, Pioneer House and RHF Foundation continued to refuse to readmit her.
Federal and California laws provide strong protections against evictions of nursing home residents. Residents have very specific rights that are intended to prevent inappropriate, unnecessary and untimely transfers and discharges. States must provide a “fair hearing” for nursing facility residents who claim that they have been illegally evicted. Mrs. Single’s suit alleges that because California has failed to enforce the readmission orders resulting from such hearings, facilities like Pioneer House see no downside in disobeying the orders.
“The problem is that no state agency will take responsibility for enforcing these orders,” said Kelly Bagby of AARP Foundation Litigation, who also represents Plaintiffs. “Resident dumping is a growing trend and serious danger to seniors in California. Until the State does something, our only recourse is going to be filing suits like this. Three years ago, the federal government told California that it had to enforce these orders, and it has done nothing. The time has come for the State to protect its elderly citizens and stop this abusive practice.”
In 2016, AARP and AARP Foundation filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asking the federal government to compel California to enforce its own readmission orders. As a result of that complaint, the federal government again, directed the State of California to enforce administrative law judges’ decisions for people like Mrs. Single.
But to no avail. The AARP Foundation lawsuit followed.
In addition to advocating for older Americans in the halls of Congress, AARP staff and volunteers are working on the ground in all 50 states, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to make a difference in people’s lives through advocacy. This year, we have helped enact state policies to support more than 30 million family caregivers and provide thousands of workers with a new way to save for retirement.
Achieving these results took a lot of hard work and dedication from state legislators, governors and other elected officials. They worked together – often across party lines – to write, support, and advance commonsense policies that make people’s day-to-day lives a little bit easier and gives them more financial security in their retirement.
To recognize these elected leaders, AARP is proud to announce our fourth annual bipartisan class of Capitol Caregivers who fought to increase support for family caregivers and their loved ones along with our third annual bipartisan class of Super Savers who fought to help more Americans retire with confidence.
Every day, 40 million Americans help parents, spouses and other loved ones live independently at home, where they want to be. Family caregiving is a labor of love, to be sure, but it can also be a challenge. Care responsibilities can include providing transportation, cooking meals, managing finances, performing complex medical tasks, helping with bathing and dressing, and so much more. Sixty percent of family caregivers juggle full- or part-time jobs with their caregiving duties, and many are still raising their families.
AARP is fighting for commonsense solutions to make these big responsibilities a little bit easier—and we’ve seen real progress in states across the country.
AARP’s 2017 class of Capitol Caregivers recognizes 91 state legislators, five governors, one lieutenant governor, and one justice from more than 30 states, who advanced policies that:
A list of AARP’s 2017 Capitol Caregivers and the legislation they championed can be found here.
Today, 45 percent of working-age households have no retirement savings at all. At AARP, we believe everyone should be able to retire with confidence. That’s why we’re fighting for Work and Save plans that give more workers access to a payroll deduction retirement savings plan. Employees who are able to save for retirement out of their regular paychecks are 15 times more likely to save.
AARP’s third class of Super Savers includes six state legislators and two state treasurers who were integral to the passage of state-facilitated retirement programs in 2017.
A list of AARP’s 2017 Super Savers and the legislation they championed can be found here.
More work to do . . .
In 2018, AARP will continue to work with elected state leaders across the country to fight for the issues that matter to you and your families. To stay up-to-date on our progress, or get involved, sign up here.
2014 Capitol Caregivers
2015 Capitol Caregivers
2016 Capitol Caregivers
2015 Super Savers
2016 Super Savers
Nancy LeaMond is AARP chief advocacy and engagement officer. She leads the organization’s Communities, State and National Group, including government relations, advocacy and public education for AARP’s social change agenda. LeaMond also has responsibility for AARP’s state operation, which includes offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
You can follow her on Twitter @NancyLeaMond.
Many of you, like me, know that family caregiving for someone you love can be a source of deep satisfaction and meaning. But caring for a person with dementia, known as dementia caregivers, can exact an especially high emotional, physical and financial toll on family members themselves.
Dementia caregivers commonly experience more emotional upset, distress, isolation, and financial burdens than those caring for people with other illnesses who do not have dementia because daily care needs are progressive, complex, and frequently unpredictable.
More people are living at home with dementia and relying on their family to care for them
Addressing the needs of dementia caregivers is important because of the growing number of older people living at home with dementia who rely primarily on their families for help with basic tasks of daily living. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the proportion of people with dementia dying at home increased significantly between 1999 and 2014, from 13.9 percent in 1999 to 24.9 percent in 2014, underscoring the increasing numbers of people with dementia residing outside of a nursing home setting. This means that more people than ever are caring at home for someone living with dementia often without adequate and affordable support services, exacerbating the stresses all the more.
Part of that stress is the cost to families.
A recent study on the lifetime cost of dementia shows that families incur 70 percent of the total cost of care ($225,140 in 2015 dollars) for a person living with dementia. Medicare ($52,540) and Medicaid ($44,090) accounted for 30 percent of the total cost.
Taking care of dementia caregivers
Targeted care strategies, such as education, skills training, and counseling, can make a real difference in the daily lives of people with dementia and their family caregivers. It is especially important, for example, to have someone to talk to when help is needed to address the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. Successful programs for dementia caregivers begin with the health or social service provider talking with the family caregiver about his or her unique needs, problems, strengths, and resources, in what is known as a caregiver assessment.
Although evidence-based programs hold promise to create more value in the lives of dementia caregivers, these proven services are still not commonplace in communities and available to the families who could benefit from them.
A new AARP Public Policy Institute paper highlights examples of successful dementia caregiver programs and services. The report also identifies several barriers to scaling up evidence-based programs, including health care and social service providers’ lack of knowledge about successful caregiver services, and limited technical assistance to help providers understand how to identify family caregivers who might benefit from such programs and services. Barriers also include a lack of integration of caregiver supports in existing systems of health care and long-term services and supports, and a lack of sufficient funding and payment mechanisms to adopt proven caregiver support services in practice settings.
The forthcoming National Research Summit on Dementia Care aims to shine a light on the need to accelerate the scaling up of evidence-based services for individuals living with dementia and their family caregivers. Advancing these programs to reach families who need them should be a priority at the federal, state and local levels.
Lynn Friss Feinberg is a senior strategic policy adviser for the AARP Public Policy Institute. She has conducted policy analysis and applied research on family caregiving and long-term services and supports for more than 30 years.
Earlier this week, AARP named HomeEXCEPT Inc. the Grand Prize winner of the AARP Innovation Champion Awards competition. The team was awarded $10,000 in cash for designing a homecare sensor that allows caregivers to monitor loved ones by using thermal sensors used to track movement.
The AARP Innovation Champion Awards was created to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary efforts of companies that are aligned with AARP’s core mission – to empower people to choose how they live as they age.
The AARP Innovation Champion Awards also honored six finalists, one in each of six categories: Health and Safety Awareness, Daily Essential Activities, Caregiver Quality of Life, Care Coordination, Social Well-being, Transition Support. Finalists came from Canada, Israel and Korea in addition to the United States and all demonstrated the importance of ageless design with their submissions.
The finalists and Grand Prize winner were selected by AARP’s panel of judges: Bill Horne, Executive Editor, AARP The Magazine; Rich Tehrani, Group Editor in Chief, TMC: Technology Marketing Corp.; Robin Raskin, Founder, Living in Digital Times; Patricia Moore, President, Moore Designs; Amy Goyer, Author and AARP’s Family and Caregiving Expert.
For the full list of winners per category, product descriptions and prizes, log onto www.aarp.org/innovationaward.
When Eric Epstein, 56, a lawyer from New York City, learned that his 83-year-old father, Bill, had fractured his right hip while vacationing in Utah, he was on the next plane. “I wanted to make sure he was getting quality care in an unfamiliar hospital,” Epstein recalls. When the doctors determined a few days later that Bill would need a second surgery, Eric was instrumental in booking the return flights to NYC, arranging for transportation, wheeling his 6’4”, 250-pound father onto the plane, and transferring him carefully from the wheelchair to his seat.
Now that Eric’s father is recovering at a nearby rehab facility, Eric visits at least four days a week (often after a long day at work) to check on his progress, and will help prepare his mother to prepare their apartment when Bill gets the green light to return home in a few weeks.
Eric is one of 16 million male family caregivers in the U.S. Like their female counterparts, male caregivers are often called upon to perform a range of tasks—from managing finances and grocery shopping to housework and meal prep as well as challenging medical and nursing tasks.
When I hear Eric’s story—and when the AARP Public Policy Institute releases research on this important topic—I’m struck by the fact that the male population traditionally isn’t recognized for performing caregiving tasks. Yet there are many of them, and they’re rising to the challenge.
Leading the Way on Male Caregiver Research
Until recently, not much research was available that examined the impact of caregiving on male family caregivers, whether they’re caring for a parent, spouse, other relative, or even a neighbor or friend (also included in the term family caregiver). It’s a topic I’ve long wanted the Public Policy Institute to explore, so that’s what we’ve done. In March we released a report by my colleague Jean Accius, PhD, “Breaking Stereotypes: Spotlight on Male Family Caregivers,” that provides current information about the experiences and challenges facing this important segment of our health care system. A major takeaway from the report is that, contrary to many people’s assumptions, men represent four in 10 family caregivers.
Since the report’s release, Jean, who serves as VP of livable communities and long-term services and supports for the AARP Public Policy Institute, has become a go-to source on the topic for media outlets including Forbes and ESPN’s The Undefeated. And, of course, he’s blogged on the topic for our website.
One statistic that jumped out at me from the research is that nearly two-thirds of male family caregivers indicated that their caregiving experience was stressful, both physically and mentally. Male caregivers also are less likely than women to seek external support to deal with this stress.
Support Is Available
To help alleviate the stress and get the word out that support is available, we produced a series of videos, specifically targeted at the male caregiving community. Two of the videos focus on support groups in various communities that help men realize they’re not alone in their day-to-day struggles to care for loved ones.
With Father’s Day coming this weekend, I hope you’ll take the time to acknowledge any male caregivers in your life, and perhaps offer to take a task or two off of their plates. Running an errand on a relative or friend’s behalf may not seem as significant as a necktie or a set of golf clubs. But chances are, he’ll appreciate the effort as much as any gift you could buy.
Are you a male caregiver, or do you live with one? If so, please share how you (or he) keep(s) stress at bay. I would love to share your tips in a later post.
Last week, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and U.S. Representatives Tom Reed (R-NY) and Linda Sánchez (D-CA) introduced the bipartisan Credit for Caring Act (S. 1151/H.R. 2505) and AARP endorsed the legislation. The bill would help support America’s family caregivers by offering a federal tax credit for those who qualify.
“One of the biggest stresses of being a family caregiver is the financial strain from taking care of a loved one. As a result, this puts many of us into financial peril,” said Amy Goyer, AARP’s Family and Caregiving Expert and a family caregiver, herself.
Like many family caregivers, Amy takes on huge responsibilities that can be overwhelming, exhausting — and frequently financially challenging.
Much of Amy’s salary goes to caring for her 93-year-old dad with lives with Alzheimer’s. She takes care of everything from mortgage payments to medications. In addition to their basic needs, Amy is also responsible for keeping her father’s service dog Jackson healthy, sometimes she pays a person to keep their home clean and she even hires in-home care to help her father when she travels.
Last year, family caregivers spent roughly $7,000 on average – or nearly 20 percent of their income — on out-of-pocket costs providing care for their loved ones. And on average, long-distance family caregivers spend nearly $12,000 last year to care for their loved ones.
On top of the out-of-pocket costs associated with caregiving, some family caregivers work part-time or quit their jobs altogether to care for their loved ones. Family caregivers are also dipping into their personal savings, cutting back on their personal spending, and saving less for their own retirement to care for others.
Amy thinks, “the Credit for Caring Act could help provide some financial relief to reduce the caregiving costs for millions of eligible family caregivers across the country who work.”
To qualify for the Credit for Caring Act, taxpayers must be: an eligible family caregiver who pays or incurs qualified expenses for providing care to a spouse, child, parent or other qualified individual with long-term care needs and also earn an annual income of more than $7,500.
For more information on AARP’s advocacy to support family caregivers, visit www.aarp.org/supportcaregivers.