AARP Nebraska recently honored family caregiver, Teresa Thompson from Lincoln, during the annual Nebraska Caregiver Coalition luncheon held at the Governor’s Mansion.
“As we both have entered our senior years now, the unpredictability of the future looms heavy,” she said.
Teresa, age 64, has been a caregiver for her husband, Dean, since a tractor accident caused traumatic brain injury in 1999. She worries about medical costs and having enough food on the table. She currently receives support from a home health aide, a nurse and her daughter, who lives in the same town. Teresa now serves on the Nebraska Caregiver Coalition, which was formed to raise awareness and support for caregivers.
AARP believes family caregivers’ stories, like Teresa’s, aren’t celebrated nearly enough. Because of their tireless efforts, older parents, spouses, and other loved ones are able to live independently at home and in the community – where they want to be. It’s a labor of love for sure, and often more than a full-time job.
Teresa is one of 195,000 family caregivers across Nebraska. Together they provide an estimated $2.5 billion in unpaid care each year, helping their loved ones with everything from:
- Bathing and dressing
- Cooking meals
- Complex medical tasks, like wound care and injections, and more.
That’s why AARP is spotlighting their experiences of hope, love, dedication and perseverance through our storytelling initiative, I Heart Caregivers. In honor of family caregivers, we randomly selected 53 of these unsung heroes, one from every state as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands – including Teresa – to receive Portraits of Care, original paintings of each family caregiver and his or her loved one, from photos submitted through I Heart Caregivers.
Fighting for family caregivers in Nebraska
At AARP, we know family caregiving can be a big job. That’s why we’re fighting for more support – and commonsense solutions – to make big responsibilities a little bit easier.
As the 2016 Nebraska legislative session approaches, we’re gearing up to work:
- for the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act. This will support family caregivers when their loved ones go into the hospital, and provide training on medical tasks they will need to perform once their loved one returns home.
- for a tax credit for caregivers who meet certain financial criteria.
- for workplace flexibility so family caregivers don’t have to worry about losing their pay – or losing their jobs – when they have to take time off work to bring their loved one to a doctor’s appointment.
- for “respite care” that allows family caregivers to take a hard-earned break.
- to make sure caregivers have access to the right resources in the community, like home care and adult day programs.
To learn more about AARP’s legislative efforts to support Nebraska caregivers or to get involved as a volunteer, contact Mark Intermill or call him toll free at 1-866-389-5651.