Recognizing the ongoing strain Iowa's more than 317,000 family caregivers face, AARP Iowa is urging lawmakers to make support for family caregivers a reality during the 2017 Iowa legislative session.
According to a 2015 AARP survey, and overwhelming majority of Iowans recognize the critical role family caregivers play and support passing the CARE Act to help them more safely care for their loved ones at home, where they want to be.
The Caregiver, Advise, Record, and Enable (CARE) Act works to ensure that Iowa's caregivers are given proper acknowledgement when their loved ones are admitted to a hospital. If a family caregiver is designated, the CARE Act states the assigned caregiver receives advance notice of patient discharge and live instructions on medical tasks the caregiver will need to continue at home.
"Because of the huge load caregivers embrace in addition to work and everyday on-goings, caregiving can be an overwhelming, 24-7 job," said AARP Iowa State Director Kent Sovern.
A recent national report on Iowa's long term care system shows that 65 percent of Iowa family caregivers are routinely performing complex medical tasks, almost 15 percent higher than the national average. AARP’s survey finds this is a practice 95 percent of Iowans say they want and need assistance and support for, but Iowa family caregivers report it only happens 50 percent of the time.
While Iowa family caregivers are the first to say they would not have it any other way, the reality is, Iowa family caregivers are helping with loved ones with complex medical tasks and procedures that often create stress and for both the caregiver and the loved one they are trying to assist.
"A common sense approach to support Iowa's family caregivers like enacting the CARE Act would help ensure that caregivers receive the training and instruction they need to keep their loved ones safe and at home, where they most want to be," said Sovern.
AARP has 370,000 members in Iowa and enlists the help of hundreds of volunteers to advocate on issues important to aging Iowans. AARP state legislative priorities are consistent with the public policies and priorities established by AARP’s national Board of Directors and AARP Iowa’s Executive Council. AARP Iowa solicits feedback from members statewide and these priorities reflect that feedback.