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Training the Millions of Texas Family Caregivers

PHOTO: When Texas lawmakers convene for the 2015 session, it's expected they'll be asked to step up in support of the state's growing number of unpaid family caregivers. Photo credit: Florian Richter/Flickr.
PHOTO: When Texas lawmakers convene for the 2015 session, it's expected they'll be asked to step up in support of the state's growing number of unpaid family caregivers. Photo credit: Florian Richter/Flickr.
November 25, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas - New figures show nearly 3.5 million Texans provide home health care for a family member, and as that number continues to grow, the Legislature is being asked to provide Texas family caregivers with support.

Bob Jackson, state director of AARP Texas, says a proposal is expected to go before lawmakers next year that would ensure hospitals provide information and training for family caregivers for home care tasks like injections, wound care, and medication management.

"Just a few years ago my wife and I had to be caregivers for our son, who had leukemia," says Jackson. "We were giving shots of medication, monitoring pain meds, pretty complicated stuff. Hugely more complex than it used to be."

Jackson's situation of having to care for a family member is becoming more common in Texas, so in conjunction with National Family Caregivers Month in November, AARP has launched a new online initiative to feature these stories of care called I Heart Caregivers.

"We'd really like to hear from people and put a face on this," says Jackson. "Help policymakers to understand who this is, because it can be any of us, any time of day. You just never know."

This year alone, it's estimated family caregivers in Texas will provide unpaid care valued at $34 billion.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX