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Teaching Home Medical Tasks to ND's Family Caregivers

PHOTO: More than one in seven North Dakotans now are providing care for a family member, and many have had little or any instruction on how to perform medical tasks at home. Photo courtesy of AARP.
PHOTO: More than one in seven North Dakotans now are providing care for a family member, and many have had little or any instruction on how to perform medical tasks at home. Photo courtesy of AARP.
November 17, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. - North Dakota lawmakers soon will convene for 2015, and one piece of legislation they're being asked to consider aims to better support the state's family caregivers. One of the main provisions of the CARE Act is for facilities to provide instructions and demonstrations on tasks to be performed at home such as wound care, injections and medication management.

That type of information can be vital, says Vel Rae Burkholder of Fargo, who cared for her adult son as he was dying of cancer.

"During that time he was living at home with us and he was in and out of the hospital," says Burkholder. "Usually we did not know what the medications would do. So there were times when I didn't understand."

The CARE Act also requires the name of a family caregiver be recorded upon a person being admitted into a hospital. That caregiver must then be notified when the loved one is going to be discharged home or transferred to another setting.

With the state's aging population, there are a growing number of stories similar to Burkholder's. Josh Askvig,associate state director for advocacy with AARP North Dakota, says they're hoping to spotlight more when the legislative session opens Jan. 6.

"We're collecting stories at aarp.org/iheartcaregivers," Askvig says. "They can go tell their story. We can make sure we share that with legislators about the need to have these common-sense solutions be enacted in North Dakota."

The latest figures show there are nearly 110,000 North Dakotans now providing care for a family member.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND