Alabama AARP poll shows need for family caregiving resources
The recent survey of 1,000 Alabama registered voters ages 40-plus found that the vast majority (82.3 percent) of current caregivers said that they will provide future caregiving or assistance on an unpaid basis to an adult loved one. It also found that 82 percent of respondents think that it is very important to have more community resources and training for family caregivers.
Additionally, the polling found that current caregivers are feeling stressed (70.4 percent) and current working caregivers are stressed trying to balance work and family (61.1 percent).
This is not an issue that affects a small amount of Alabamians, either. The polling said that 48 percent of respondents were current or former caregivers and 61 percent will be likely caregivers in the future.
According to AARP, Alabama’s 761,000 family caregivers spend 708,000,000 hours each year caring for loved ones – a contribution totaling approximately $7.7 billion annually in unpaid care. These caregivers perform tasks such as managing finances, providing transportation, helping with bathing and dressing and cooking meals.
According to the survey, some family caregivers even take on complicated medical (58 percent) and managing medications (81 percent). Once only done by doctors and nurses in hospitals, these tasks are now performed by family caregivers at home, most with little to no training.
A press release accompanying the polling said, “AARP is fighting to support America’s 40 million family caregivers who help make it possible for older Americans to live independently at home—where they want to be. One measure being considered this week in the Alabama Statehouse will bring needed support to Alabama’s 761,000 caregivers.”
AARP Alabama is supporting the bipartisan Alabama Family Caregivers Act (SB 376), sponsored by State Sens. Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro) and Vivian Figures (D-Mobile). This legislation has already been enacted in 39 states.
AARP calls the bill “commonsense legislation based on three proven practices supporting the family caregiver” that “works to prevent hospital readmissions and helps reduce caregiver stress.”
The three provisions of the legislation are as follows:
1. IDENTIFY – The name of the caregiver is recorded when a loved one is admitted into a hospital
2. INFORM – The caregiver is notified if the loved one is to be discharged to another facility or back home
3. INSTRUCT – The facility provides instruction on basic tasks – such as medication management, injections, wound care and transfers – that the caregiver will perform at home.
SB 376 is pending action in the Senate Healthcare Committee. The bill’s fiscal note explains SB 376 “will not affect state or local funding.”
AARP Alabama State Director Candi Williams stated, “Family caregivers take on tasks that are exhausting, overwhelming, and stressful. And the Alabama Family Caregivers Act is a no-cost, commonsense step to make these big responsibilities a little bit easier while, also, saving taxpayers money by lowering hospital readmissions.”
The polling showed resoundingly bipartisan support for SB 376.
This included 95 percent of respondents feeling hospitals should be required to explain and demonstrate any medical or nursing tasks family caregivers will need to perform after the patient returns home; 92 percent believing hospitals need to keep a family caregiver informed of major decisions, like transferring or discharging the patient; and 85 percent favoring requiring hospitals to record the name of a patient’s family caregiver in the medical record upon admission.
Williams explained, “More than half (58 percent) of current and former caregivers are taking care of parents, meaning that many have to balance the demands of work, their own children and other needs. That is why there is such strong support for this simple measure that will make their labor of love less stressful and demanding.”
Examine the poll yourself here.
View a write-up on SB 376 from AARP Alabama here.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn