At the 2015
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Legislative Summit in Seattle, Washington, AARP presented Senator Debbie Smith with its Capitol Caregiver Award, recognizing her outstanding work to support family caregivers in Nevada. Smith, who also currently serves as NCSL president, joins an elite bipartisan group of state legislators and governors recognized for advancing policies to help unpaid family caregivers who are making it possible for older Americans to live independently at home – where they want to be. An initial champion for the CARE Act, Smith was a leading voice supporting its passage through the 78th Session of the Nevada Legislature (2015). The new law, passed by unanimous vote and signed by Governor Brian Sandoval in May, takes effect on January 1, 2016.
The CARE Act helps caregivers stay informed when a loved one is hospitalized, and ensures they are trained on any needed after-care when the family member returns home, such as managing medications and administering wound care. The intent of the bill was to foster independent living at home, and reduce the need for costly hospital re-admissions.
“From the beginning, bringing the CARE Act forward in Nevada was very personal to Senator Smith, who was in that family caregiver situation when her mother was hospitalized in Arizona.” said Barry Gold, director of government affairs for AARP Nevada. “Outstanding communication and training from the hospital made all the difference in the world for her – and she was passionate about ensuring Nevada’s caregivers and their loved ones receive that same special level of support.”
Family caregiving for relatives or close friends with chronic, disabling, or serious health problems so they can remain in their home is nearly universal today. According to a recent AARP study, in 2013, about 350,000 family caregivers in Nevada helped another adult loved one carry out daily activities (such as bathing or dressing, preparing meals, administering medications, driving to doctor visits, and paying bills) every week. About 500,000 individuals in Nevada performed family caregiving activities over the course of the year. The value of this unpaid care is estimated at more than $4.3 billion annually.
“AARP thanks Senator Smith for championing the CARE Act this year, galvanizing bi-partisan support and in the process inspiring more than 50 organizations across the state to step up on behalf of family caregivers,” said Hilarie Grey, interim state director of AARP Nevada. “Her leadership, integral to passing the bill, will go a long way to help make the lives of family caregivers a little bit easier.”
Photos: Nevada Senator Debbie Smith receives AARP’s Capitol Caregiver Award from Barry Gold, director of government relations for AARP Nevada, at a special reception at the National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Summit in Seattle, Washington on August 4, 2015.
Photos courtesy of the National Conference of State Legislatures