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New Mexico State Sen. Padilla, Rep. Salazar Named to AARP’s “Capitol Caregivers”


To recognize their work to support family caregivers in New Mexico, AARP named New Mexico State Sen. Michael Padilla and State Rep. Tomas Salazar as 2014 “Capitol Caregivers”,a bipartisan group of 46 state legislators and three governors from 19 states. These elected officials have advanced policies to help family caregivers who are making it possible for older New Mexicans to live independently at home—where they want to be. 

“AARP thanks both Sen. Padilla and Rep. Salazar for championing House Joint Memorial 4, which created the New Mexico Family Caregivers Task Force,” said Gene Varela, AARP New Mexico State Director. “They provided integral leadership to pass this memorial, which will help make the lives of family caregivers a little bit easier.” 

The New Mexico Family Caregivers Task Force brings together people from community organizations, providers and government agencies, to determine what resources are available and identify what resources are needed. It will also study the impact caregiving has on families as well as on our health systems and the economy. The task force has until November 2015 to develop a state plan regarding caregiving.

More than 287,000 New Mexicans provide unpaid care for their older loved ones as family caregivers—valued at about $3.1 billion annually . They help with bathing and dressing, meal preparation, managing finances, transportation, grocery shopping and more. Today, family caregivers also perform medical tasks like wound care, injections, and complex medication management. 

“Family caregiving is one of these rare issues that crosses geographic and political lines. “This isn’t a Democratic issue. It’s not a Republican issue. It’s a family issue,” Varela said. 

“The Family Caregivers Task Force is just a first step to providing help for family caregivers. AARP will continue to fight for New Mexico family caregivers and their loved ones. In 2015, AARP New Mexico will be asking state Legislators to pass the Caregiver, Advise, Record Enable or CARE Act,” Varela said. 

The CARE Act would ask hospitals to work with patients to designate a caregiver upon admission to the hospital; that caregiver would then be notified if the patient is discharged or transferred; and the hospital would provide the caregiver with detailed instructions on the patient’s care after being discharged, allowing plenty of time for the caregiver to ask questions and get more information if necessary.

“With family caregivers being asked to do more, especially once a person is discharged from the hospital, it’s important that they be recognized as a caregiver and included in the care of that person both in and out of the hospital. If a caregiver is unaware of specific tasks or items like medications or wound care are done improperly, that can result in readmission to the hospital,” Varela said. 

To also recognize America’s silent army of family caregivers, AARP recently launched a new initiative, “I Heart Caregivers,” to spotlight the stories of these unsung heroes, and the great labor of love they perform every day. Visit


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