AARP Announces 2017 State Capitol Caregivers and Super Savers

AARP Announces 2017 State Capitol Caregivers and Super Savers


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.

Capitol Caregivers
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.

Super Savers
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.

More information
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.

 



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Giving Thanks for America’s Family Caregivers

Giving Thanks for America’s Family Caregivers


As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, let’s also remember that November is National Family Caregivers Month – a time to recognize and express our appreciation for America’s 40 million family caregivers. They are truly the backbone our care system, helping aging parents, spouses, and other relatives and friends manage chronic conditions and disabilities.

At AARP, supporting family caregivers like Olivia Garcia is one of our top priorities. Here is Olivia’s story in her own words:

My name is Olivia, and I am my mother’s primary caregiver. Her name is Rosalinda, and she is 61 years young! My family and I have been taking care of her for 11 years, and she’s been living with us for about four years now. She was diagnosed with dementia at the young age of 54, then Alzheimer’s at 58. It’s been one hell of a rollercoaster of stress, emotions, questions and exhaustion!  But, we love her and know that good we are doing by the quality of care she receives. Thankful to the fullest for our local Agency on Aging that helped us so much during the beginning times of our journey. Mom attends an adult day care during the day so I can continue to work and provide for my young family of five – including mom! Life isn’t easy or fair at times, but your attitude about it makes all the difference. When her moments of clarity come in and she’s full of joy, I know we are doing amazing things for her!  God bless all the caregivers and their families!

To help Olivia and the millions of family caregivers across the country, AARP provides information, develops educational programs, and advocates for a range of federal and state legislation.

Our work is informed and driven by a number of important trends:

 

  • The need for family caregivers is growing. America is aging. By 2030, one in four Americans will be over age 50, and by 2050, one out of five will be age 65 and over. People are living longer, managing chronic conditions over an extended period of time, and, more and more, they are staying in their own homes.
  • Family caregivers are as diverse as America. We sometimes talk about the “typical” family caregiver . . . a 49 year old woman who spends 24 hours each week caring for her mother.  But, this data point masks the broader picture. Nearly one in ten family caregivers are over age 75. One in four are Millennials. Four in ten are male. While there may be a common bond, every caregiver’s situation is different, so there is no one-size-fits all solution to the challenges they face.
  • Technology innovations to support caregivers and their loves ones could be transformative – but we’re not there yet. Venture capital firms are pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into companies that provide technology, tools and resources for senior care. And, brand-name companies are rethinking how their products can be used by – and marketed to – seniors and others who require help to stay independent. But, an AARP study found that while 71% of caregivers say they are interested in technology that supports their caregiving tasks, only 7% are using what’s currently available.
  • Family caregiving is a workplace issue. A little more than 60% of American’s family caregivers are in the paid workforce. That’s 24 MILLION Americans who are balancing their caregiving responsibilities with jobs – either full or part-time. Employers can do a lot to helpAARP’s research shows that creating a caregiver-friendly workplace can increase productivity and help attract and retain talent. We’ve created a toolkit to help employers support their caregiver employees.
  • Family caregiving is no longer simply a personal issue. It is now firmly planted as a BIPARTISAN legislative and political issue.  At the state level, the CARE Act – a law that helps family caregivers get information and training to support a loved one who has been in the hospital – is on the books in 39 states and territories that cover the political spectrum. And, here in Washington, AARP is proud to work with Senators and Representatives on both sides of the aisle to promote legislation like the Credit for Caring Act and the RAISE Family Caregivers Act.

 

In September, the RAISE Family Caregivers Act passed the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent . . . a strong sign that in an age of partisan gridlock, family caregiving is an issue that policymakers of all political stripes can get behind. AARP is continuing to bolster support for the legislation in the U.S. House.

We are hopeful that Congress will pass the bill to create a national strategy that recognizes and supports family caregivers so families like Olivia Garcia’s can get the help they need to make the big responsibilities of caregiving a little bit easier.


Nancy LeaMond, chief advocacy and engagement officer and executive vice president of AARP for community, state and national affairs, leads 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.



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Employers Can Do More to Support Family Caregivers

Employers Can Do More to Support Family Caregivers


With more than 60 percent of America’s 40 million family caregivers balancing their caregiving responsibilities with paid employment, there is a pressing need for employers to do more to support employees who are also caring for loved ones. In fact, according to a survey AARP conducted with the Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH), an overwhelming majority of the company benefit managers – 82% – say that family caregiving will become an increasingly important issue for their companies over the next five years. That is why AARP is partnering with NEGBH to help employers assess their company culture and develop strategies and policies to create a caregiver-friendly workplace.

In addition to time spent at the office or job site, family caregivers, on average, spend a little over 24 hours per week on a whole host of tasks to help their parents, spouses, children with disabilities and other loved ones live independently. They manage medications, prepare and serve meals, help their loved ones to bathe and dress, arrange transportation (or do the driving themselves), handle financial and legal matters and much, much more. About 60 percent of family caregivers assist with medical or nursing tasks like injections and tube feedings.

Some have to readjust their work schedules, often working fewer hours than they otherwise would, using paid time off for caregiving duties and taking unpaid time off when needed. Others work more hours or take an additional job to cover the bills. Many put their own health at risk for the sake of their loved one, and many say they feel isolated at work, unable to be honest about the responsibilities they carry at home for fear of judgement or reprisal.

There are a lot of things employers can do to support employees who are also family caregivers. It could be something as simple – and low cost – as forming an employee support group or distributing a list of caregiver resources. Some companies are leveraging employee assistance programs and new digital tools to help employees manage their care tasks. Other practices to consider are re-thinking sick leave and flex-time policies to take caregiving responsibilities into account or offering back-up care and respite care services as employee benefits.

At AARP, we live our values with paid caregiving leave, flex-time and back-up care options and an organizational culture that recognizes and supports our family caregiving colleagues. (I’ve frankly never worked at an organization that walked the walk on this issue the way AARP does.) A recent report by AARP and ReAct, a coalition dedicated to addressing challenges faced by employee caregivers, highlights a number of promising practices at other organizations. For example, Allianz Life offers quarterly educational sessions and a 24/7 support line for employees caring for aging relatives and other loved ones. Bank of America employees can tap emergency back-up care at a reduced rate and have access to legal and senior care consultants. And, staff at CBS can get help navigating the health care system through the company’s Health Advocate program.

To help other organizations support employee caregivers, we’ve developed an employer toolkit in collaboration with NEBGH. Resources include a self-assessment tool and a comprehensive guide complete with checklists and handouts to help employers identify and implement ways to support the caregivers in their workforce. One quick and easy step in the right direction is a list of caregiving resources ready that can be copied and distributed. The toolkit is available for free at www.employercaregivingtoolkit.org.

Whatever the changes, our research shows that having caregiver-friendly workplace policies is good for business. 87% of respondents in our caregiving and workplace survey say that supporting family caregivers in the workforce can increase productivity, and 75% say that having a caregiving-friendly workplace would help attract and retain talent. In addition, policies that help family caregivers take care of themselves – physically and mentally – can reduce employers’ healthcare costs in the long run.

As our country ages with more older Americans staying in their homes, the nation’s 40 million family caregivers are the bedrock of our long-term care system. We need to make sure that that they have the resources and support they need to care for their loved ones – especially when they are also working hard to support themselves and their families.


Nancy LeaMond, chief advocacy and engagement officer and executive vice president of AARP for community, state and national affairs, leads 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



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No Wrong Door: Promising Practices for Accessing Long-Term Services and Supports

No Wrong Door: Promising Practices for Accessing Long-Term Services and Supports


Photo courtesy of Sullivan County New Hampshire ServiceLink

Most of us will need long-term services and supports (LTSS), either for ourselves or our family members. However, most of us do not know about our options and how to pay for these services. That is why the LTSS State Scorecard—created by the AARP Public Policy Institute and funded by The Scan Foundation and The Commonwealth Fund—ranks states on their Aging and Disability Resource Centers. These Centers are an important feature of a high performing LTSS system.

Aging and Disability Resource Centers can serve as the gateway for helping individuals and their families find and access LTSS, including light housekeeping, transportation, and respite care to give family caregivers a break, just to name a few. States have these “one-stop-shopping” models to help people receive public and private services regardless of which organization they contact. Therefore, they are sometimes called “no wrong door.” If people contact an organization within this system, they can be connected with information, referrals, and supports, resulting in “no wrong door” to services irrespective of their age, income, or disability. Area Agencies on Aging, Centers for Independent Living, and state agencies such as Medicaid agencies and state units on aging work together to make up this no wrong door system. While the states have these centers, the operations and functions of each center vary greatly, which is why the Scorecard ranks them.

Although the previous two Scorecards included an indicator on these Centers, the upcoming third edition contains an updated indicator to reflect published guidance on key elements of no wrong door systems from the federal government. AARP, in collaboration with the U.S. Administration for Community Living and The Lewin Group, collected information for this indicator from a survey of state administrators. Then, they followed up by interviewing administrators from states that had scored well or demonstrated innovation to produce a newly released promising practices and toolkit paper on person- and family-centered practices.

This first in a series of promising practices and toolkit papers provides concrete examples of how six states—Connecticut, Michigan, New Hampshire, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin—plus the District of Columbia promote person- and family-centered practices in their no wrong door systems. These Centers are using an interactive process directed by individuals and family members to support decision making. They also help to develop a plan of support that reflects an individual’s and family’s strengths, preferences, needs, and values. It affirms the core principle that each person is the expert in his or her own life rather than simply plugging people into programs based on their eligibility.

The promising practices are:

 

  • Ensuring leadership support for these practices (with examples from the District of Columbia’s mayor-led cross-population task force, Michigan’s broad support for change, and Virginia’s state legislation on this practice);
  • Creating standards for these practices (with examples from Washington’s statewide standards of practice, Virginia’s co-employment model between aging and disability organizations, the District of Columbia’s intake to better listen to people and families, and Wisconsin’s follow-up);
  • Training the “no wrong door” workforce (with examples from New Hampshire’s training and certification, the District of Columbia’s training for all, New Hampshire’s peer support model, Virginia’s person-centered advocates, and Connecticut’s essay exam); and
  • Helping people maximize use of private resources (with an example from Wisconsin that has been a leader in serving private pay clients).

 

This promising practices and toolkit paper includes resources and contacts for state and federal administrators, providers, and advocates to learn about—and even replicate—these practices. This paper also provides a checklist of what is needed to move toward more person- and family-centered practices.

NOTE: The third edition of the Scorecard will be released soon … on June 14th. Promising practices and toolkits are a new feature of the Scorecard project. More papers—such as promising practices in preventing long-term nursing home stays—will be forthcoming. For the new Scorecard, the promising practices and toolkit papers, and more, please go to the LTSS State Scorecard interactive website at www.longtermscorecard.org.

 

Wendy Fox-Grage is a Senior Strategic Policy Advisor for the AARP Public Policy Institute. She works on state long-term services and supports issues, including Medicaid and home- and community-based services.

 

 

 

 

 



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U.S. Senate considers RAISE Family Caregivers Act

U.S. Senate considers RAISE Family Caregivers Act


This week, the U.S. Senate began its consideration of the RAISE (Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage) Family Caregivers Act – an important piece of legislation that would start a national conversation about ways to aid American’s greatest support system – family caregivers. Thanks to the leadership and support of Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) the bill was quickly approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee (which goes by the very appropriate acronym . . .HELP).

Every day, more than 40 million Americans across the country are caring for parents, spouses, children and adults with disabilities and other loved ones so they can live independently in their homes and communities for as long as possible. They manage medications, help a loved one with bathing and dressing, prepare and feed meals, arrange transportation to medical appointments (or do the driving themselves), handle financial and legal matters and much, much more. Many do all of this while working full-time and raising families.

The unpaid care family caregivers provide — a staggering 37 billion hours valued at about $470 billion annually — helps delay or prevent more costly care and unnecessary hospitalizations, saving taxpayer dollars.

I know from firsthand experience that caring for a loved one is a tremendous responsibility. As my two millennial sons and I care for my husband, their father, who has ALS, I know that, while my experience may be in some ways unique, I have much in common with my fellow caregivers. Every family caregiver I encounter – including the thousands who have shared their stories on AARP’s I Heart Caregivers – expresses a need for support, whether that means help at home, training, workplace flexibility, or the opportunity to get some relief from their caregiving responsibilities.

The RAISE Act Family Caregivers Act recognizes this tremendous need and calls for the development of a national strategy to support family caregivers, bringing together stakeholders from the private and public sectors to identify specific actions communities, providers, government, employers and others can take to make it easier to coordinate care for a loved one, get information, referrals and resources, and improve respite options so family caregivers can reset and recharge.

AARP commends the sponsors of the RAISE Family Caregivers Act — as well as the co-chairs of the bicameral, bipartisan Assisting Caregivers Today (ACT) Caucus — for their leadership on this important issue. They understand that family caregiving is not a Democratic or a Republican issue, or even an older or younger person’s issue. Recent research shows that a surprising one-quarter of Millennials are family caregivers.  And, according to a poll we conducted, four-in-ten Millennials say that they are already worried about taking care of their parents on a day-to-day basis.

In fact, this is a family issue that touches us all. We are either family caregivers now, were in the past, will be in the future — or will need care ourselves one day.

Last year, we made tremendous progress on this important piece of legislation. This year, we look forward to working with the bill’s Senate and House champions – as well as other organizations that advocate for and support family caregivers as well as family caregivers themselves – to push this bill over the finish line.


Nancy LeaMond, chief advocacy and engagement officer and executive vice president of AARP for community, state and national affairs, leads 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.

Photos: iStock/BraunS, iStock/ktaylorg, AARP



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Family Caregivers Need Support From Hospital to Home

Family Caregivers Need Support From Hospital to Home


Having a loved one in the hospital can be a stressful and emotional experience — especially if you don’t have the support you need. Each day, 40 million family caregivers help older parents, spouses, children with disabilities and other loved ones live independently at home. They help with bathing and dressing, manage finances, stand by their loved one’s side when they go into the hospital, care for them when they return home, and so much more.

Some family caregivers, like Jerry, who cared for his wife, Faith, receive the support they need to smooth out the transition from hospital to home.

“Prior to discharge the charge nurse told me I would need to watch and listen, because I would be the caregiver at home. My wife had shoulder replacement, so I needed to know how to assist in removing and attaching the shoulder brace. She reviewed all medications with me as far as to when my wife needed to take them etc. She changed my wife’s dressing and told me to do it the same way and told me I needed to go to a pharmacy and purchase 4″ x 4″ gauze and 2 in. wide paper tape. She made sure I understood it was paper tape so the tape didn’t irritate the skin etc.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the experience of all family caregivers.

Mary didn’t receive instructions on her mother, Eartha’s, medications after a hospital stay. After a medication that was supposed to be short term was given to Eartha long term, she suffered irreversible kidney damage. Mary was then given the choice to put her 82-year-old mother on dialysis or take her home on hospice.

When Cheryl’s husband Alphus was discharged, the family was given no instruction on the medical tasks they needed to perform, including managing multiple medications and cleaning his PICC line. Cheryl learned by trial and error — and unfortunately one of these errors led to Alphus being hospitalized, again.

The consequences can be grave when family caregivers don’t have the support they need as their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home.

That’s why AARP developed a model bill called the CARE Act, short for Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable Act. This commonsense, no-cost solution is now law in 32 states, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The CARE Act calls upon hospitals to:

  1. Record the name of the family caregiver when a loved one enters the hospital.
  2. Notify the family caregiver prior to the loved one’s discharge.
  3. Provide the family caregiver simple instruction of the medical tasks they will be performing when their loved one returns home — like managing medication.

 

State update
As the 2017 state legislative sessions progress, states continue work to pass the CARE Act:

  • In Kansas, Kentucky, Montana and North Dakota, the CARE Act has passed one chamber of the state legislature and is being considered by the second chamber.
  • In Iowa and Missouri, the bill has been introduced in the state legislature.
  • In Tennessee, regulations are in progress that would put the CARE Act into effect.


In the states that have already passed the CARE Act, we’re educating family caregivers about this new law and how it can help them when a loved one goes into the hospital. We’re also continuing our advocacy by making sure caregivers know whom to contact if their loved one doesn’t receive the benefits of the CARE Act, and we are making sure that state agencies are notifying hospitals about the law and are effectively implementing it. In addition, we’re studying how leading hospitals are putting the CARE Act into action and sharing these promising practices with others hospitals.

Stay tuned throughout the year for more updates on how the CARE Act is helping family caregivers nationwide.

Check out where your state stands


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.



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