Thank You, Nurses.

Thank You, Nurses.


During National Nurses Week, I am making a special effort to say, “thank you,” to all the nurses in my life, and I invite you to do the same. Each and every day, in communities across the country, nurses help their patients to get and stay well.  They use their incredible skills to comfort us in difficult times, and care for us when we’re at our most vulnerable.

For America’s 40 million family caregivers, nurses often become even more heroic as they help us care for our parents, spouses and other loved ones. For me, Nurse Sue was an invaluable member of our family’s team. Her assistance was critical to keeping my Mom safe at home.

Family caregivers often share their stories with us on I Heart Caregivers and the @AARPadvocates Facebook page.  It seems many also have their own versions of Nurse Sue:

Judith: “I could not have been my mother’s caregiver without all the care and advice given to me by the nurses. THANK YOU ALL.”

Nana: “When my husband was alive the nurses were angels. They really took care of my husband in our home, especially the hospice ones, they were just awesome.”

Barbara: “Where would we be without them [nurses] to care for us & our families when we need them?”

Dolores: “Nurses are in a league of their own! They do such wonderful work and it often goes unnoticed. I have a lot of admiration for nurses!”

Nurses heal. Red tape doesn’t. 
That’s why AARP is fighting to cut through the red tape that prevents nurse practitioners—and all advanced practice registered nurses—from doing their jobs. Right now, 28 states still have outdated rules that restrict nurse practitioners from using all their skills and training to provide primary and preventative care, including:

  • routine health care such as diagnosing and treating patients,
  • management of chronic conditions,
  • ordering lab tests,
  • prescribing medications
  • performing annual exams
  • and much, much more

Keep in mind: nurse practitioners have master’s or doctoral degrees and advanced training, so they can give patients the care we count on. By modernizing state rules, patients, family caregivers—and our loved ones—will have better opportunity to receive the care we need, when and where we need it.  And, yes, this means: at home and in our communities.

To all nurses, again, I give you my thanks.  Your caring helped make me a better, stronger family caregiver. For that, alone, I am grateful.

Where does your state stand when it comes to rules that allow nurse practitioners to do their jobs?

Sign up to get involved and help AARP cut the red tape.


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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New PSA with Ad Council Spotlights Male Caregiving

New PSA with Ad Council Spotlights Male Caregiving


A couple of weeks back, we unveiled our new caregiving ad – starring a unique caregiver. You may recognize him as the antihero from Machete or Breaking Bad, but you would never assume he’s just like you. That’s right, actor Danny Trejo is a caregiver and he is showing just how tough male caregivers are.

Although the typical family caregiver is a 49-year-old woman, there is a silent army of husbands, brothers, sons and friends – about 16 million– caring for their spouses, parents and other loved ones.

As family sizes shrink and the population ages, the number of male caregivers is only expected to rise, but they are often ignored in the caregiving conversation.

AARP, in conjunction with, the Ad Council is spotlighting this overlooked group through its new PSA campaign. The ad features Trejo performing the tough guy feats he is known for in films, alongside the everyday tough jobs a typical caregiver performs.

AARP’s new data profile on male caregivers shares insights on the level and type of care men provide, the challenges they face and more. Some of the key findings include:

  • More than half of male caregivers (63%) are the primary caregiver for their loved one.
    • Male family caregivers are helping their loved ones with personal care activities and more than half (54%) of male family caregivers perform medical and nursing tasks, such as injections, tube feedings, and wound care.
  • Many men say they feel unprepared for these tasks and express discomfort providing intimate personal care (e.g. bathing, dressing, toileting).
  • Men are less likely than women to reach out for help and feel uncomfortable discussing the emotional challenges of caregiving.
  • More than one-third (37%) of male caregivers don’t tell their employers that they are juggling caregiving responsibilities at home.

 

In addition, AARP sharing stories of men rising to the challenge and offering their lesson’s learned with others.

Caregivers can find helpful tools, like the Prepare to Care guides and more at aarp.org/caregiving.



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AARP Volunteers Are Fighting For You

AARP Volunteers Are Fighting For You


During National Volunteer Week I’d like to stop and say thank you. Thank you to the thousands of AARP volunteers who are fighting for families as part of our multi-state advocacy campaigns across every state, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  By giving your time and energy to advocate for the 50-plus and their families, you’ve helped to:


Here are snapshots of just a few of our incredible volunteers.

Pat from Connecticut
Pat helped AARP Connecticut champion the CARE Act, a new law that supports family caregivers when their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home. Recently she had a caregiver thank her for her work. Pat shared,

“She (the caregiver) said, would you go back to AARP and all the volunteers there and tell them thank you. Thank you for standing up for the seniors. Thank you for standing up for the people of Connecticut.” Pat continues, “And then I realized that’s why I volunteer.”

Pat from CT

Earl G. from Ohio

“I believe that AARP performs an essential service for members and all Ohioans to make sure they receive a fair shake on the issues we support and I am happy to volunteer my time for this important work.”

Earl represents AARP and the interests of Ohioans 50-plus in his service on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Telecommunication Study. He’s working to make sure Ohioans only pay what’s fair and justified for reliable utility service.

Monica S. from Florida

“The needs of caregivers vastly outweigh the resources we have today.   We are seeing the tip of the iceberg of the caregiver crisis.   I am a proud AARP volunteer addressing this issue.”

When it comes to supporting family caregivers, Monica’s doing it all. She advocates for more support for family caregivers and their loved ones at the state capitol, organizes conferences, recruits for events, is helping to build a caregiving coalition and much more.

Julia from Texas
Julia is fighting for more support for family caregivers—a subject near and dear to her heart being a caregiver herself.

“I am so glad that AARP for this legislative session is trying to work in this area especially to give caregivers some measure of support.”

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Julia the caregiver

"When you're married and your significant other gets ill, you truly experience what it means to be a caregiver," says Julia of San Antonio.

Posted by AARP Texas on Monday, April 10, 2017

 

Mike and Marilyn Worner with Sen. Nichol Poolman

Michael and Marilyn W. from North Dakota

During the 2017 legislative session Michael and Marilyn have enthusiastically worked to support family caregivers.  One bill they helped pass was recently signed into law and will help family caregivers get some of the relief and resources they need.

Even more impressive, Mike and Marilyn live 200 miles away from the state capitol. Yet, they have made multiple trips to Bismarck to help fight for family caregivers.

 

 

Thank you to Mike, Marilyn, Earl, Monica, Julia, Pat and ALL our amazing AARP volunteers who devote so much of their time and energy to help others.

Would you like to volunteer with AARP? Visit aarp.org/getinvolved.

 


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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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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Not excited about advance care planning? Here are 8 unorthodox reasons you should be!

Not excited about advance care planning? Here are 8 unorthodox reasons you should be!


Happy-Man-Jumping

By now you’ve surely heard that Medicare is going to pay doctors and other qualified healthcare providers for advance care planning with patients in 2016.

Aren’t you excited?!?

Ok, so if you are not utterly thrilled or even if you are nonplussed about the whole issue, then let me give you a different perspective on why you should rush into your friendly local doctor’s office to make a living will and chat about your future.

Here are 8 unorthodox reasons to create your own advanced care plan in 2016:

 1. You don’t want your Aunt Bertha changing your diapers.

Maybe your Aunt Bertha did change your diapers when you were 6 months old, but do you really want her cleaning your feeding tube and wiping up your poop stains when you are 60? I mean heaven forbid that you end up in a chronically dependent or even vegetative state at such a youthful age, but what if…??? Did you even want to be kept alive in such a state at all…??? Certainly something to think about. Maybe you should give Aunt Bertha a call?

2. The loudest person in your family may not have your best interest in mind.

Oftentimes the loudest relative “runs the show” in the hospital- by guilt, intimidation, and a host of other aggressive or passive-aggressive strategies. If you don’t want “you-know-who” making decisions for you or bullying around your other relatives, while you lie helplessly in the hospital bed, then for Pete’s sake, choose and document your own healthcare proxy today! Make sure they know EXACTLY what’s acceptable and not for you.

3. I’ll bet you know who you DON’T want making decisions for you.

Simply put, some people can handle this kind of pressure and some people can’t. The people who would wilt under life and death decisions on your behalf should NOT become decision makers for you, either by intention or default.

4. Hell hath no fury like your family fighting over your fate or your fortune!

I’ve seen feuds break out around a deathbed that would make the Hatfields and the McCoys cringe. I always want to scream, “What the hell are you people doing? Can’t you see that your loved one is dying here?” (Of course that kind of outburst is never good for the physician professionalism scorecard, so I usually manage to translate the sentiment into something a bit more PC.) So, please, please I beg you to have your fate and your fortunes pre-determined before that fateful and inevitable moment arrives!

5. Grudges can come back to bite you.  

One time the closest available relative to my unresponsive patient on full life support was his estranged wife. She had carried a grudge for 20 years. When we finally tracked her down to make a decision for my patient, with glee she whispered evilly, “Pull the plug.” (YIKES!) I’m pretty sure that guy would have had someone else in mind to make this decision, but IT WAS TOO LATE! No advance care plan was in place with his doctor. (I sense that you are getting my drift…)

6. No one knows your secret priorities.  

During one of my traveling lecture series last year I met a gerontologist who shared some of the idiosyncrasies of his advance care plan with me. He had in writing, that should he become demented and placed in a nursing home: 1) Under no circumstances should he ever be physically or chemically restrained, and 2) He should be allowed to have sex with anyone who is willing to engage him :)

7. No one knows you like you… and you deserve a fitting exit. 

I would like to die on a blanket under the oak tree at bottom of my field. My dad would like to be buried in a bright red racecar motif casket. My husband wants a Viking funeral pyre. I’m sure you have some pretty unique idea about your final goodbye as well… do you have the plan in place?

8. Embracing death will allow you to embrace life. 

Is this too much for you? Think it’s too morbid? Let me tell you the great secret… when you embrace death in its inevitability, then each moment of life itself becomes more precious. Now will never come again. Planning for the end-of-life awakens you to the gift of this very moment of life, this very second. What a gift.

“The doctor will see you now…”



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Get a Power of Attorney (But Make Sure It’s Not a License to Steal)

Get a Power of Attorney (But Make Sure It’s Not a License to Steal)


Many of us understand that saving for retirement and for the long term is one of the most important actions you can take to ensure a secure future. So is protecting that savings.

One in five older adults fall victim to some form of financial exploitation. Sometimes the loss is minor, but sometimes it can be disastrous. In a single case, the average victim loses $120,000, which is roughly the average amount of a 50-year-old’s entire retirement savings.

AARP understands the importance of preventing financial exploitation. Our groundbreaking BankSafe program works with the financial services industry to develop new ways to fight financial exploitation.

Yet the greatest power lies with you — the consumer. You are in the best position to ensure your savings are secure. In a previous blog we covered one important area to consider — alternatives to joint bank accounts. Another key action step is to carefully plan for your future, especially with a power of attorney.

A power of attorney is a legal document in which you give a person, called an agent, the authority to act on your behalf. A power of attorney allows you to plan for situations in which you may not have the ability to manage your finances. With the right power of attorney (emphasis on right — more on that later), a person you trust can protect your savings. And by carefully thinking through your choice, you can avoid inadvertently giving someone else a license to steal when you are unable to manage your finances.

A power of attorney gives someone the authority to perform tasks ranging from paying your bills and buying groceries to selling your home. Giving someone the authority to act on one’s behalf becomes crucial in the event that, say, a person becomes incapacitated or begins to show the first signs of dementia. The only good time to put the proper protections in place, therefore, is before any such life event occurs.

 

How to find your agent — or agents

Filling the position of power of attorney agent should be done with great care. Here are some tips to help you meet your power of attorney needs:

Get two agents. Many people know the importance of a power of attorney, but they don’t know this key detail. Why two agents? First, having two people involved spreads the responsibilities, lightening the financial caregiving burden that can weigh so heavily on one individual. Second, it serves a checks-and-balances function, just as two accountants would manage the account of a single business. The end result: better decision making and increased security of your funds.

In choosing your two agents, make sure they can get along with each other and have similar principles when it comes to money. For instance, perhaps don’t choose the kid who’s prone to overdrafting on a bank account, or the one who’s always borrowing money and never paying you back.

Choose agents you trust. This is the most important aspect of finding the right agents. Quite simply, not choosing someone you completely trust puts your money at risk. Naming an untrustworthy agent amounts to awarding a license to steal. In your assessment of prospective agents, you need to ask yourself some direct questions and give some honest answers. Ask, for instance, why do I trust them?  Would I trust them with my money not just years in the future, but right now? Will they always keep my best interest in mind in every decision, large and small?

Communicate with the people you select — and others. Once you’ve chosen your two agents, set out expectations in an open discussion with them. Make sure they have a copy of the power of attorney document. Finally, let everyone close to you know who has these responsibilities so there’s no confusion in the event you cannot speak for yourself.

Limit the power of the financial power of attorney. The beauty of the power of attorney is that you can design it to meet your precise needs. If you only need the agents to pay bills, then give them that authority alone. Likewise, give them enough power to act on your behalf in the areas you want them to be able to address. Given the flexibility of the power of attorney, you will want to steer clear of prewritten power of attorney forms. These can lead to your authorizing a role you hadn’t intended.  Using an elder law or estate planning attorney ensures that the duties of the agent are outlined in the power of attorney. Examples of such duties: The agent can only act in the best interest of the principal, will not commingle funds, and will keep records of all transactions.

Let’s beat exploitation by working together

Through such initiatives as BankSafe, we’re working hard to fight financial exploitation. But the best way to fight exploitation is for each of us individually to take sound steps to secure our future savings. A carefully developed plan that includes two trusted power of attorney agents is key among those steps.

 

Debra Whitman is AARP’s chief public policy officer and leads policy development, analysis and research, as well as global thought leadership that supports and advances the interests of individuals age 50-plus and their families. Follow Deb on Twitter: @policydeb

As the director of AARP’s BankSafe Initiative, Jilenne Gunther works on solutions to curb financial exploitation and to engage the financial industry to better protect more of the 50-plus from financial exploitation. Follow Jilenne on Twitter: @Banksafe_



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