What the CARE Act Means for Caregivers
Being a family caregiver is more than a “9 to 5” responsibility – you are there for the discomfort at 4 a.m. and the pain that doesn’t get a break on the weekend. You work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, always with your loved one in mind. This may last a few weeks or a few months, but it is a burden of love that 2.7 million Pennsylvanians take on each day, helping their aging parent, spouse or another loved one live independently at home.
At times, this includes complex care responsibilities such as managing multiple medications and special diets, providing wound care, and operating specialized medical equipment.
A recent study conducted by AARP and the United Hospital Fund found that forty-six percent of family caregivers selflessly perform medical or nursing tasks, yet most of these caregivers report they have received little to no training to do so.
Caregivers are often intimidated by these medical or nursing tasks, worrying that they are not prepared or, worse yet, could make a mistake and inadvertently harm their loved one. AARP has identified some common-sense steps that would make a world of difference to caregivers and the loved ones they help.
Here in Pennsylvania, the legislature is considering the Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable (CARE) Act, features three key components:
- Designate a family caregiver upon a loved one’s admission to the hospital,
- Notify the caregiver if their loved one is discharged to another facility or back home; and
- Provide an explanation and instruction for any medical tasks that the caregiver will perform at home – such as medication management, injections, and wound care.
The CARE Act enables you, the caregiver, to be fully trained to help your loved one heal safely at home and reduces the likelihood of hospital readmission. Hospital readmissions are a huge burden on the healthcare system (to the tune of $27 billion annually) and an emotional strain for patients and caregivers.
Caring for a loved one is an emotional experience. It can be taxing and rewarding. It can be overwhelming – and caregivers need all the help they can get.
To find the tools and support you need — as well as ways to connect with other caregivers — visit the AARP Caregiver Resource Center.
To share your caregiver story – visit the AARP I Heart Caregivers site.