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Help the Helpers

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On January 24, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story regarding caregiving. It highlighted the York family from West Philadelphia, who struggled with caregiving for an ailing mother, and found resources to help.

AARP Pennsylvania State Director,  Bill Johnston-Walsh, wrote to the Philadelphia Inquirer to highlight the importance of caregiving. His letter is as follows:


Dear Editor,

Sunday’s story  Recognizing Overtaxed Caregivers provided a compelling example of how so many families work tirelessly caring for aging parents, spouses, friends or other loved ones so that those older adults can continue living independently, with dignity, at home — where they want to be.

As the focus of the story, Sheila Rea York is one of more than 1.6 million caregivers across Pennsylvania. This silent army is the backbone of elder care in our state, providing unpaid care valued at $19.2 billion annually. In fact, without the help of family caregivers, too many of our seniors would end up in costly institutions — often paid for by the state, through Medicaid.

These families need all the help they can get. That's why AARP is fighting for The Caregiver, Advise, Record and Enable Act here in Pennsylvania. The CARE Act will give family caregivers the support they need by requiring hospitals to record the name of the caregiver when their loved one is admitted, notify the caregiver when their loved one is to be moved or discharged, and instruct the caregiver on the medical tasks they will need to perform at home. Similar legislation was already approved in 19 states.

Here in Pennsylvania, the CARE Act already passed the state House and is awaiting action in the state Senate. The good news is the legislation enjoys broad support among lawmakers and advocates for older adults and was developed with the Hospital Association of Pennsylvania.  But to date, the state Senate has yet to bring the bill up for a vote.

Every day, caregivers perform a great labor of love by helping older adults remain at home. While these family caregivers wouldn't have it any other way, they deserve our help and support. I encourage readers to contact their PA state senator and ask them to bring the CARE Act to the floor for a vote.


Bill Johnston-Walsh, State Director

AARP Pennsylvania


Featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer

Sunday, January 31, 2016

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