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A Call for Common Sense Solutions to Help Family Caregivers

It's Family Caregivers Day at the state Capitol, and advocates for seniors are urging lawmakers to support simple ways to help those who provide care to aging loved ones. (Greg Stotelmyer)
It's Family Caregivers Day at the state Capitol, and advocates for seniors are urging lawmakers to support simple ways to help those who provide care to aging loved ones. (Greg Stotelmyer)
February 24, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Kentucky needs to take common-sense steps to help the hundreds of thousands of family members who care for aging loved ones, the state's leading seniors' organization says.

AARP is urging lawmakers to pass the forthcoming "Family Caregiver Act" to help Kentucky seniors stay in their own homes. AARP state president Jim Kimbrough said it's as simple as making it a uniform requirement for hospitals to record the name of the family caregiver and notify them when their loved one is being discharged.

"It's happening in many cases, not every case," he said. "That's why there's a lot of recidivism with Kentucky hospital dischargees."

According to AARP, family caregivers who help their loved ones stay in their own homes save the state around $7 billion a year.

Kimbrough said AARP also wants lawmakers to make it a requirement that hospitals and other health-care facilities explain and demonstrate to family caregivers the medical tasks they may have to perform - things such as managing medications, injections and wound care. When Kimbrough had open-heart surgery a few years ago, he said, his wife didn't get the briefing she needed.

"My wound started oozing, which really freaked my wife out," he said. "This is the kinds of things that, if it was explained - that in my case it was normal actually - it would help."

According to AARP's 2015 Caregiving Survey, 69 percent of care recipients did not have a home visit by a health-care professional after discharge from the hospital. In that survey, Kimbrough said, many family caregivers said they received little or no training to perform tasks such as managing medications and administering injections.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY