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Town Hall for Maryland’s "Silent Army"

PHOTO: A Caregiver Town Hall on Tuesday will offer information about resources for the 770,000 in Maryland who care for an aging spouse or relative so they can remain in their homes. Credit: Geralt/Pixabay
PHOTO: A Caregiver Town Hall on Tuesday will offer information about resources for the 770,000 in Maryland who care for an aging spouse or relative so they can remain in their homes. Credit: Geralt/Pixabay
November 17, 2014

HANOVER, Md. – More than 770,000 Marylanders have an extra job – one that is a labor of love that carries a value of more than $8 billion a year.

They're caregivers of aging parents, spouses or other relatives, helping them to live at home.

It's a tough job, and those challenges are being recognized Tuesday at a Caregivers Town Hall in Hanover, sponsored by AARP Maryland.

Elaine Ryan, vice president for state advocacy and strategy at AARP, is a keynote speaker.

"They're keeping their loved ones at home and out of costly nursing home facilities, and they need support," she says.

The daylong town hall is free and will help people find connections to support, and discuss other ways to help at home.

One option, soon to be on the table in Maryland, is the CARE Act (Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable Act), which will be introduced in the next legislative session.

The CARE Act has been passed in other states.

Ryan says it keeps caregiver names on record at the hospital and keeps them advised during treatment, requires advance notice of discharge so caregivers can ready homes for recovery, and addresses the needs of caregivers who will be taking on wound care, injections and other things traditionally done by doctors and nurses.

"If they're being sent home to perform some medical tasks, there would have to be training prior to discharge so that the family caregiver knows exactly what to do," she says.

New Jersey's version of the CARE Act was signed into law last week.

Ryan adds that there is much to be done to support the silent army caring for loved ones at home, especially when those caregivers are trying to balance work outside the home.

"Flexible work schedules, or paid or unpaid leave, to even take a loved one to a doctor's appointment would be a dream," she says.

Local caregivers will share their stories at the event, which also includes a session on palliative care.




Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD