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Nebraska Honors Those Who Care for Others

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Suzy Campbell of the Nebraska Caregiver Coalition predicts there will be fewer family caregivers in coming years. (Nebraska Caregiver Coalition)
Suzy Campbell of the Nebraska Caregiver Coalition predicts there will be fewer family caregivers in coming years. (Nebraska Caregiver Coalition)
 By Mary Kuhlman/Cynthia Howard, Contact
November 13, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. -- November is National Caregiver Month, and Nebraskans who dedicate their time to care for a loved one are receiving special recognition today.

Gov. Pete Ricketts will sign five proclamations recognizing the importance of home care, hospice and palliative care, respite care, family caregivers and Alzheimer’s disease awareness. Co-chair of the Nebraska Caregiver Coalition, Suzy Campbell, said about 195,000 Nebraskans step up and support their family members, friends or neighbors who need help with daily life.

"We just want the whole state of Nebraska to know what special people caregivers are,” Campbell said. "They keep the person in the home; they see to their well-being, and so that recipient of care maintains the dignitary and the integrity of their life."

After the ceremony, dozens of caregivers and professionals will attend a luncheon at the governor's residence.

According to AARP, the average caregiver in Nebraska is age 55 or older. More than half are female, working full- or part-time and earning less than $75,000 a year.

Advocates today will also tie ribbons on the Respite Tree on the Capitol lawn, representing the different types of caregivers. Campbell said that will include a red, white and blue ribbon for those who care for individuals who have served their country.

"Veterans are coming back with post-traumatic stress or loss of limbs, all of that,” she said. “So we want to be very cognizant of recognizing those caregivers, because that's a big task for many of them."

Annually, Nebraska caregivers provide nearly $2.5 billion worth of unpaid care. And Campbell said rising demand and smaller families will mean a drastic decline in the availability of family caregivers in coming years.

"There's four caregivers now per person. But by 2030, there's going to be one caregiver available. So, legislators and the public need to realize that we need to be proactive and thinking about what's coming,” she said.

Campbell is among those who worked on the 2016 legislation to support family caregivers helping a loved one transition to home after a hospital stay. She said the focus now is on creating policies to help protect Nebraskans who need time off from their jobs to care for a loved one.

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