RALEIGH -- AARP North Carolina, which represents 1.1 million people in the state, sent a letter to state House and Senate leaders this week outlining priorities important to the growing number of people in the state who are providing care to family members with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Because the number of people with Alzheimer’s and dementia is expected to grow from 160,000 today to 210,000 by the year 2025, AARP co-chaired a legislatively-mandated Task Force organized by the NC Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) to help the state better prepare to meet their needs and support their caregivers.
Earlier this month, the NCIOM Task Force presented a slate of recommendations to address 16 areas as they relate to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Recognizing that 2016 is a legislative short session, AARP State Director Doug Dickerson outlined three legislative changes for the General Assembly to decide to help those dealing with Alzheimer’s
- Passage of Bipartisan NC House Bill 817 – Enact Uniform Law on Adult Guardianship
This bill helps to increase legal safeguards and protections for people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias by reducing the legal red tape involved in taking care of loved ones across state lines and helps save thousands of dollars in unnecessary and duplicative legal costs.
In the 2015 legislative session, NC House Bill 817 was introduced and passed the State House with a unanimous vote. This bill, titled the ‘Enact Uniform Law on Adult Guardianship’ and often referred to as the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act or UAGPPJA, is supported by the national Uniform Law Commission and would propose a set of rules for transferring guardianship from one state to another, allow states to recognize other states’ guardianship orders, and create a process for establishing guardianship jurisdiction. 40 states have already implemented this uniform law. This bipartisan bill sponsored by Representatives Rena Turner, Pat Hurley, Jean Farmer-Butterfield and Graig Meyer is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.
- Passage of Bipartisan NC House Bill 816 – Study the Needs of Working Caregivers
This study bill helps to establish the framework to educate employers about ways to support family caregivers as well as to study employer policies towards family caregivers while encouraging family caregivers to stay in the workplace. The ratio of caregivers to care recipients is rapidly falling, from 8 to 1 in 2010 to 3.9 to 1 by 2030, which largely falls on working adults to juggle employment while caregiving.
NC House Bill 816 also passed the State House unanimously in April 2015. The bipartisan study bill sponsored by the same sponsors of House Bill 817 directs the Legislative Research Commission to study the needs of working family caregivers due to the recognition that an increasing number of employees have caregiving responsibilities that could cause them to leave the workplace prematurely and have negative effects on North Carolina’s economic productivity. This study would evaluate the percentage of working caregivers in the workforce, current workforce protections, the needs of working caregivers, and the needs of their employers.
- Project CARE Increased Recurring Appropriation of $1,044,888 to the Division of Aging and Adult Services for Fiscal Year 2016-2017
This fiscal request would increase the availability of dementia-specific respite care as a family caregiver support which research shows helps prevent or delay entry into costly nursing facilities, and which is often funded by Medicaid
Project CARE (Caregiver Alternatives to Running on Empty), is the only dementia-specific state-funded service through the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Aging and Adult Services providing caregiver support, care management, and referrals to available services. Project CARE partners with local family caregiver support programs within each Area Agencies on Aging and other organizations in order to improve services and increase capacity. Project CARE was designed and tested in North Carolina. It has become a national best practice model for providing respite services to family members who are caring at home for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia. Project CARE uses a family consultant model to provide comprehensive support to dementia caregivers. The goal of the program is to increase quality, access, choice, and the use of respite care for low-income (non-Medicaid), rural and minority families caring for a person with dementia at home. However, due to a reduction in state funds in 2011 totaling $500,000, respite care through Project CARE is no longer available to family caregivers. For respite care specifically, research has shown that an increase of $100 toward respite care produced approximately a one-week delay in institutionalization. Therefore the Division of Aging and Adult Services requests an additional recurring appropriation of $1,044,888.