To the Editor:
There is a group of people in Maine who frequently go unnoticed and underappreciated. They are the nearly 200,000 unpaid caregivers who provide assistance to family members or friends who can no longer take care of themselves.
Family caregivers play a critical role in care transitions, especially as their loved ones move from hospitals to rehabilitation centers and back home. Today, nearly 50 percent of family caregivers perform medical/nursing tasks, often with little or no explanation or guidance. Simple, yet profound changes can be made to support family caregivers so they can safely care for their loved ones at home and prevent unnecessary hospitalizations or re-hospitalizations following surgery or treatment.
Presently, statistics show that one of every eight Medicare beneficiaries is readmitted within 30 days due to the lack of proper transitional care. That’s why AARP has embarked on a multi-state effort to advance commonsense legislative solutions to provide some basic support for family caregivers that will make big responsibilities a little bit easier.
AARP Maine is working with Rep. Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook) and a bipartisan group of co-sponsors on LD 666, the Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable (CARE) Act. This act is designed to directly support caregivers who help loved ones remain in their own homes, and we are urging all legislators to support it.
Under the CARE Act, the hospital would record the name of the patient’s caregiver, the caregiver would be informed when the patient is being discharged from the hospital, and the caregiver would be given detailed instructions on how best to care for their loved one before discharge. This is an important step in our efforts to give family caregivers the recognition they deserve, and I urge you to contact your legislators and ask them to support this bill.
Dr. Erica Magnus