“I was stressed and worn out. I could not work and take care of him so I eventually took an early retirement. It was the only way I felt I could survive,” said JoAnn.
Since the 1990s, JoAnn, age 66, cared for her husband, John, a former police officer, due to disability from injuries, heart disease, and lung and colon cancer. As his health declined, John depended solely on JoAnn for constant, complex care. John died in 2014; JoAnn now cares for herself
AARP believes family caregivers stories, like JoAnn’s aren’t celebrated nearly enough. Because of their tireless efforts, older parents, spouses, and other loved 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.
JoAnn is one of nearly 650,000 family caregivers across Kentucky. Together they provide an estimated $7 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 National Family Caregivers Month, this November, 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 JoAnn – to receive Portraits of Care, original paintings of each family caregiver and his or her loved one, from photos submitted through I Heart Caregivers.
Share your story today and help us fight for you and your family.
Fighting for family caregivers in Kentucky
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.
That’s why during the 2016 legislative session AARP is fighting for commonsense solutions to help make their big responsibilities a little bit easier like the Kentucky Family Caregivers Act, would allow every hospital patient to designate a family caregiver. The hospital would notify the caregiver about discharge plans and show the caregiver how to perform follow-up medical tasks the patient will need at home. Research shows that if a caregiver is well-prepared when a patient is discharged, the patient will be healthier and less likely to be readmitted.
If you’re a family caregiver, you’re not alone.
- For tools and resources, visitorg/caregiving
- To share your story and connect with others, visit org/iheartcaregivers
- To find out more about how AARP is fighting for you, check out org/SupportCaregivers