NEW YORK, April 20, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- State Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan), joined by AARP and other advocates, announced today that together they have made it a top priority this year to help millions of family caregivers with legislation that will foster better care, potentially reduce hospital readmissions and save taxpayers money.
Flanked at the announcement by AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel and representatives of the Alzheimer's Association NYC Chapter, Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), several family caregivers and about four dozen AARP members, Assemblymember Rosenthal said passage of the CARE Act will be one of her top priorities before the mid-June end of this year's state legislative session.
The Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable (CARE) Act (A.1323-A), of which Assemblymember Rosenthal is prime sponsor and which is AARP NY's foremost state legislative priority, would ensure millions of family caregivers are properly prepared to provide quality and cost-effective care to older parents, spouses and loved ones who are sent home from the hospital.
The CARE Act ensures hospital patients can designate a family caregiver and requires hospitals to offer caregivers instruction and demonstrations of medical tasks their loved one will need at home, such as administering multiple medications, dressing wounds and operating medical equipment.
The bill could help 1.6 million adult New Yorkers a year who are discharged home from hospitals, including about 500,000 in New York City and 140,000 in Manhattan – as well as over one million family caregivers in the city and more than 215,000 in Manhattan.
Those caregivers – whose numbers are expected to increase in the next five years as the population ages - are too often left unprepared to provide proper care before taking their loved ones home from the hospital.
"Anyone who has taken care of a sick loved one knows how daunting, and often frightening, that experience can be," said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. "Often, caregivers are asked to dress wounds, administer medication, clean machines and perform other complicated tasks. The CARE Act will empower New York's caregivers and patients with information critical to patient care. With the number of seniors projected to balloon over the course of the next decade, right here in New York and across the country, it is essential that caregivers – family members, friends and other loved ones – are provided with information to enable them to effectively care for their ailing loved ones at home. My bill will do just that."
"AARP is thrilled that Assemblymember Rosenthal is making it a priority to get the CARE Act passed this year," said Beth Finkel, State Director of AARP in New York. "She recognizes the quiet crisis many of New York's more than four million family caregivers face - and is showing leadership by pushing this common sense solution. As our population continues to age and more frail elderly need care, this crisis will become a catastrophe without the kind of remedy Assemblymember Rosenthal is championing."
"Caregivers need support," said Peggy Hernandez of Brooklyn, caregiver for her husband, Carlos, who has Alzheimer's. "We are not medical professionals, yet we need to perform medical tasks. We need to be instructed and we need to be told and shown how to take care of wounds, administer medicines in the right dosages, combinations and times, and do all the things we need to do to make sure the person we love is well-cared for."
"Family caregivers, especially those who are new at it, don't even know to ask" questions about how to provide proper care at first, said Jerome Brown, 56, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, who has been caring for his wife, Linda, for 20 years. "They're overwhelmed. It shouldn't be on them, especially at a vulnerable and scary time like hospital discharge. The CARE Act would ensure it isn't on them."
"The New York City Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association has always been a strong advocate for enhanced support services for all New Yorkers living with or caring for a person with Alzheimer's or dementia," said Matt Kudish, LMSW, Senior Vice President of Caregiver Services at the Alzheimer's Association, New York City Chapter. "For this reason, the Chapter and the Coalition of New York State Alzheimer's Association Chapters fully support the CARE Act. Too often, family caregivers are responsible for managing critical care on a daily basis which may involve medication, diet and self-care with little professional guidance. People with Alzheimer's have unique, long-term needs that may be accompanied by an increased rate of hospitalization that makes caring for them even more challenging. The CARE Act would ease the burden of providing care for the 380,000 New Yorkers with Alzheimer's, allow for individuals to remain at home and in their communities, and strengthen New York State's support of unpaid family caregivers."
"Because LGBT older adults who need care often have very fragile support systems, that makes it especially important that medical providers aren't tied to rigid definitions of family and recognize the circles of family and friendship that we build," said Michael Adams, Executive Director of Services & Advocacy of GLBT Elders (SAGE). "The CARE Act would be an important step toward recognizing and supporting all caregiving relationships, which is why SAGE is proud to stand with AARP New York and our other partners in supporting this legislation."
AARP says the caregiving bubble in New York is about to burst – with fewer family members 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 that New York's family caregivers provide care valued at an estimated $32 billion a year.
The CARE Act would help more New Yorkers age in their own homes, rather than in costly, taxpayer-funded nursing homes or other institutional settings.
The CARE Act has strong bipartisan support, and is sponsored in the Senate by Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon of Nassau County (S.676-A). It also has the support of a wide range of health, consumer, aging and disability organizations.
The bill also 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.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo voiced support for the key provisions of the CARE Act in his Opportunity Agenda/State of the State 2015 through the Caregiver Support Initiative (pages 305-306).
The bill enjoys broad support among New York voters 50 and older. More than 90% think 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.
Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, Chair of the Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, represents the 67th Assembly district, which includes the Upper West Side and parts of the Clinton/ Hell's Kitchen neighborhoods in Manhattan.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity of AARP that is working to win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50+ by being a force for change on the most serious issues they face today: housing, hunger, income and isolation. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.
SOURCE AARP New York