ALBANY, N.Y. – More than 30 AARP members Long Island went to the State Capitol today to display a show of force for New York’s family caregivers, helping push for the CARE Act, legislation sponsored by Senate Health Committee Chair Kemp Hannon of Nassau County to support family caregivers as they safely help New Yorkers age at home.
The members boarded a bus for Albany at stops in Farmville and Melville to prod their Assembly representatives to support the bill, which passed the State Senate unanimously last month. The bill would ensure family caregivers are offered instruction in and demonstration of tasks they’ll have to perform when their loved one is sent home from the hospital.
“The need to help family caregivers care for our loved ones is not going away, and neither will we until the CARE Act is signed into law,” said Joan McCarty, AARP Long Island Representative. “As our population ages, it will only become more critical to provide this compassionate and cost-effective support. We’re looking at a huge increase in the number of Long Islanders who expect to provide care in the next five years alone. The time to act is now.”
Supporting caregivers and helping them allow New Yorkers to age at home, rather than in institutional settings that are more costly to taxpayers and families, is a growing issue on Long Island. AARP research shows the number of family caregivers in Nassau and Suffolk counties is expected to jump from 580,000 currently to 760,000 in the next five years.
Today, AARP members visited their various Assembly representatives and kept a steady presence at the entrance to the Assembly Chamber, where they made sure members were aware of the bill and its importance not only to the more than four million family caregivers across the state but to the 1.6 million adult New Yorkers discharged home from hospitals every year, including 180,000 from Long Island.
With Governor Andrew Cuomo having proposed a similar Caregiver Support Initiative in his 2015 Opportunity Agenda/State of the State (pages 305-306), AARP is optimistic this important measure will become a reality this year and begin providing New York’s family caregivers the tools they need to properly care for their loved ones.
The Long Island contingent was among AARP groups from around New York that plan to travel to the State Capitol weekly until the bill passes the Assembly before being delivered to the Governor.
The Caregiver Advice, Record and Enable (CARE) Act ensures hospital patients can designate a family caregiver and requires hospitals to offer that caregiver instruction and demonstrations of medical tasks they are expected to provide for their loved ones at home, such as administering multiple medications, dressing wounds and operating medical equipment.
The CARE Act (A.1323-A) is AARP’s top state legislative priority for 2015. Last month, Assembly bill sponsor Linda B. Rosenthal of Manhattan stood with AARP and other grass roots supporters and caregivers to announce the measure as one of her top priorities as well.
But while caregivers’ numbers are expected to increase as New York’s population ages, AARP found that in the coming years fewer family members will be available to provide care for more older loved ones who will need it. In 2010 there was a potential pool of 6.6 people aged 45-65 for every person 80 and older who would likely need care at some point. That number will shrink to 4.8 by 2030 and 3.5 by 2050.
About half of all family caregivers perform medical and nursing tasks for their loved ones.
AARP estimates New York’s family caregivers provide care valued at an estimated $32 billion a year.
The CARE Act, which has the support of a wide range of organizations representing consumers, health advocates and seniors and people with disabilities, would help more New Yorkers age in their own homes, rather than in costly, taxpayer-funded nursing homes or other institutional settings. The bill, which could reduce costly hospital readmissions, requires that patients’ designated family caregivers be identified and included in official medical records and that hospitals notify family caregivers prior to a patient’s transfer or discharge.
The bill enjoys broad support among voters 50 and older across Long Island, where 94% say hospitals should “explain and demonstrate” to family caregivers medical tasks they’ll have to perform when their loved ones are sent home from the hospital, a 2014 AARP survey found.
New York would become the seventh state to pass a version of the CARE Act, joining New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Mississippi.
Contacts: Erik Kriss, firstname.lastname@example.org; Chaunda Ball, email@example.com
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