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Q&A with Caregivers of New York

Posted on 11/01/18

Today marks the first day of National Family Caregivers Month, and we’re highlighting two New Yorkers who share their stories about caregiving and New York’s Paid Family Leave program.

AARP New York volunteer Debra Robles shares her caregiving story of helping her mom:

How would Paid Family Leave have helped you personally?
The Family leave act would have helped me when my mom became ill. My Mom was ill from 1996 from a stroke, but became worse as time passed. She really began to deteriorate in 2010. I was employed, and I had to take time off to go to hospital and to set up care because she was deteriorating and, as an only child, I had to make sure I was there.

On average, how much time have you taken off work to care for a loved one?
I was employed but taking time off for her care eventually led me to be terminated in November 2011. Afterwards, employment was difficult because I had to make sure she was ok. She had to be placed in nursing care, because as an only child I could not do alone. Although she was in nursing care I still had to be actively involved in decisions, and watching and making sure she was ok, and was being provided good care. During this time I would take temp assignments because of my situation. Temping was the best I could do because of the situation.

What concerns do you hear from other family caregivers?
I have a former coworker whose mom now is also showing signs of health deterioration, and she has missed work a few times. Between her and her sister, they are trying to care for their mom and are missing time off work. I recently explained to them that [Paid Family Leave] took effect on January 1,2018, and it will help them care for their mom. I explained that the do not have to take vacation time, or sick time of their own because of this [program]. I try my best to tell friends. Many women my age are experiencing their own situation of having to care for a parent, as well as managing a job.

Do you feel this will help other members of your family or your friends?
Employers can make it difficult when one had to take time off. This act is a blessing to many who find that they can care for a loved one and also get compensated, while participating for the care of the loved one. One should not have to choose, but should be able to do both.

How much does caregiving cause a financial strain?
The strain of caring is enough strain, and then the finance issue is a double blow. The passing of this act will help many who find themselves in a situation which is difficult enough, and at least will ease some of the strain by having financial assistance.

How much could you benefit from a tax credit for caregiving-related expenses?
A tax credit will also be a great help so many can care for loved ones without additional strain on finances.


Caregiver Marilyn McMichael shares her story of helping her mom:

How would Paid Family Leave have helped you personally?
The New York State Paid Family Leave Program would have helped me tremendously. I would not have lived in fear of running out of annual and sick leave and dipping into savings for unexpected expenses.

On average, how much time have you taken off work to care for a loved one?
On average, I took off about 2 days a month. My Mom was in her 90’s when her health began to decline. Prior to her going into a nursing home I took her to the majority of her doctor visits–required monthly checkups to refill prescriptions, mammogram, eye tests, cataract operation and recovery time to name a few.

During the latter years of her life–she lived to be 97 years young–she was in a nearby nursing home from age 91. I visited her daily. I spent as much quality time with her as possible.

In addition to daily visits, when called by the nursing home, I left work early on numerous occasions to attend hospital visits for tests that could not be administered by the nursing home, met with nursing staff and social workers to discuss her care. I also attended nursing home events to ensure Mom interacted and participated with other residents during activities. On average, during this period, I took off approximately 2.5 days a month.

Do you feel this will help other members of your family or your friends?
Yes, I have discussed the program with both family and friends. We all agree that this is a beneficial program that should have been implemented many years ago. The program will ease the burden of worrying about running out of annual and sick leave, while bonding with a child, when one is called to active Military service and/or caring for a loved one.

How much does caregiving cause a financial strain?
Caregiving causes a financial strain because not everyone is in a financial position to care for themselves and a loved one; especially if they are living check to check and have to make financial choices on what they can and can’t afford. With time the stress of financial decision making could compromise the caregiver’s health and quality of life.

How much could you benefit from a tax credit for caregiving-related expenses?
A tax credit could offset the financial burden of additional expenses, like purchase of medical equipment and supplies not covered by a health plan, high cost of diet-specific foods, transportation, laundry, etc. associated with caregiving.

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