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Missouri Ranks Among Nation's Worst in Supporting Family Caregivers

When someone develops dementia, gets in an accident or struggles with a disability, the role of caregiver often falls to a family member. (Gaertringen/Pixabay)
When someone develops dementia, gets in an accident or struggles with a disability, the role of caregiver often falls to a family member. (Gaertringen/Pixabay)
June 16, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Forty-seventh. That's where Missouri ranks nationwide in providing assistance to family caregivers. The finding appears in the Long-Term Services and Supports State Scorecard, which ranks states on how they're doing to create a high-performing system of care for older people and adults with disabilities - and those who assist them.

Jay Hardenbrook, associate state director for advocacy with AARP Missouri, says more people are being thrust into the role of the caregiver than you might imagine.

"Currently we have nearly 800,000 people in the state of Missouri who care for their loved ones at home, and that's saving the state of Missouri over $8 billion," he says.

This year, Gov. Eric Greitens initially recommended reducing funding for in-home and nursing care services. The House agreed to cuts that weren't quite as deep as the governor's recommendation - but the Senate voted to keep those services funded, at a cost of just over $35 million.

Hardenbrook says helping caregivers ultimately reduces admissions to nursing homes and re-admissions to hospitals.

He's optimistic that talking with policymakers will lead to an understanding that some short-term costs can prevent significant long-term expenses for the state, and says AARP is determined to keep sharing caregivers' stories.

"A lot of it is just continuing to have those conversations and finding out where the various groups are coming from, so we can make sure that the most adequate and appropriate care is being provided," he explains.

Some of the top-rated states on the scorecard have services that include respite care to give caregivers an occasional day off, meal delivery or even lawn-mowing - all in an effort to help keep people at home as they age, which most prefer and which saves states money.

Kevin Patrick Allen/Shaine Smith, Public News Service - MO