Did you know that in Wisconsin alone, nearly 600,000 residents serve as unpaid family caregivers, doing everything they can to help keep their loved ones living independently in their own homes and communities as long as possible?
Combined they spend about 538 million hours providing an estimated $7 billion in unpaid care annually. They each spend about $7,000 per year out of their own pockets on costs related to caregiving, and they provide this care while also keeping up with their own jobs, running their own households and trying to make ends meet.
Yes, these family caregivers should be considered heroes. But they aren’t superheroes. They are struggling and really need our help, which is where you come in. The Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving has been meeting for months and is currently in the process of gathering public opinions on various options for providing more support for caregivers.
Between June 29 and July 14, the task force is asking for the public to complete an online survey to gauge support for these options. We are asking you to fill out the survey during these dates, which you can find on the Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving website.
Here are three proposals that AARP favors that we hope you will support as well in the survey.
1. The Wisconsin Credit For Caring Act, which would create a $1,000 nonrefundable individual income tax credit for certain expenses incurred by a family caregiver to assist a qualified family member.
2. The Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act, which would require hospitals to engage with caregivers by recording the name of the family caregiver when a loved one is admitted into the hospital; keep a family caregiver informed on major decisions like transferring or discharging the patient; and provide instructions on the medical tasks the family caregiver may need to perform once the patient is home.
3. Expand coverage in the Wisconsin Family Medical Leave Act to include chronic condition and caregiving responsibilities. Currently it covers serious health conditions under the care of the physician which seems to cover only acute conditions.
There are other important proposals we hope you will support in the survey, such as Medicaid Expansion. But right now we’re stressing the importance of helping unpaid family caregivers, who take on huge responsibilities that can be overwhelming, stressful and exhausting.
They put in long hours helping loved ones with tasks such as giving baths, dispensing medications, preparing meals, paying bills, and providing transportation to doctor’s appointments. Some even provide higher levels of care, such as wound treatment, dialysis support and feeding tube maintenance.
As these caregivers face physical, emotional and financial challenges, we can take easy steps that would help make their lives a little bit easier.
Remember, Wisconsinites are getting older, with fewer home health care workers available to take care of them. That’s why we at AARP believe that making small investments in caregivers now will lead to big savings and much better care for families down the road. We hope lawmakers will understand that these are important first steps to providing this support.
We’d also like to inform you that the Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving will be welcoming testimony on these caregiving proposals on Monday, June 29. We urge you to make your voice heard by testifying during this public input session.
You can Join the meeting live online Monday and testify in support of proposals to help unpaid family caregivers. View the task force’s meeting agenda and timeslots for testimony here. You can also join the meeting by calling toll-free 1-844-708-2571. The Meeting ID is: 960 8444 6193
Materials on draft proposals can be viewed on the Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving website by clicking on the Policy Proposals button.
This story is provided by AARP Wisconsin. Visit the AARP Wisconsin page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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