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Caring for Caregivers: Legislation Aims to Help Arkansas Families

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Nearly 500,000 Arkansans play the role of caregiver for an aging parent or family member with a disability, and they’re not paid for that job. Legislation recently filed aims to make things a bit easier. Credit: gaertingen/pixabay.com
Nearly 500,000 Arkansans play the role of caregiver for an aging parent or family member with a disability, and they’re not paid for that job. Legislation recently filed aims to make things a bit easier. Credit: gaertingen/pixabay.com
March 12, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Nearly 500,000 Arkansans play the role of caregiver for an aging parent or family member with a disability and they're not paid for that job. Legislation recently filed aims to make things a bit easier.

Herb Sanderson, associate state director for advocacy with AARP Arkansas, says the Arkansas Lay Caregiver Act would ease transitions from hospital to home, where caregivers provide services that used to be traditionally administered by professionals, such as wound-dressing changes and injections.

"Require the hospitals to let them know when somebody's going to be discharged ahead of time," says Sanderson. "Go over what needs to be done and, if necessary, demonstrate how it should be done."

Sanderson says hospitals support the legislation because quality after-care reduces re-admissions. He expects it will receive a hearing soon.

AARP research pegs the value of Arkansas caregiving at $4.5 billion a year. Sanderson describes the legislation as one step in recognizing the enormous commitment.

"Every day, this silent army performs a great labor of love, taking care of their parents and loved ones," he says. "They do it while working full-time or part-time; some are on-call 24/7."

Another way caregivers are being recognized is through AARP's "I Heart Caregivers" campaign, which encourages caregivers to share their stories. Experiences can be submitted online at aarp.org/iheartcaregivers.

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