Alabama voter survey finds overwhelming bipartisan support for caregiving assistance

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Special to the
Opelika Observer

A new survey of Alabama registered voters ages 40-plus finds that the vast majority (82.3%) of current caregivers said they will provide future caregiving or assistance on an unpaid basis to an adult loved one. It also found that 8-in-10 voters (82%) think it is very important to have more community resources and training for family caregivers.
The survey of 1,000 registered voters ages 40-plus conducted by AARP Alabama in February and March, also found that current working caregivers are feeling stressed (70.4%), with the primary cause of their unease being balancing work and family (61.1%).
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 in the Alabama State House will bring needed support to Alabama’s 761,000 caregivers.
The bipartisan Alabama Family Caregivers Act (Senate Bill 376), sponsored by Senators Vivian Figures and Steve Livingston, has already been enacted in 38 states.
This commonsense legislation based on three proven practices supporting the family caregiver works to prevent hospital readmissions and helps reduce caregiver stress.
Voters show overwhelming bipartisan support for all three proven practices of the Family Caregivers Act:

  • 95% favor requiring hospitals to record the name of a patient’s family caregiver in the medical record upon admission,
  • 92% believe hospitals need to keep a family caregiver informed of major decisions, like transferring or discharging the patient
  • and 85% feel hospitals should be required to explain and demonstrate any medical or nursing tasks family caregivers will need to perform after the patient returns home.
    “More than half (58%) 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,” AARP Alabama State Director Candi Williams explained.
    Alabama’s family caregivers spend 708,000,000 hours each year caring for loved ones – a contribution of about $7.7 billion annually in unpaid care. They carry out tasks like managing finances, providing transportation, helping with bathing and dressing, cooking meals and more.
    According to the survey, some family caregivers even take on complicated medical (58%) and managing medications (81%).
    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.
    “Family caregivers take on tasks that are exhausting, overwhelming, and stressful,” Williams said. “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.”
    A copy of the 2019 survey can be found on states.aarp.org/alcaregivers.

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