All across Georgia, family caregivers can breathe a sigh of relief. On July 1, the Georgia Caregivers Act took effect, profoundly impacting some of our most vulnerable residents and the family members who care for them.
Georgia’s almost 1.3 million family caregivers help their parents, spouses and other loved ones live independently in their own homes and communities – where they want to be. Caregivers help with meal preparation, finances and medical appointments. Many also perform medical tasks, such as medication management, wound care, and injections. Before now, Georgia caregivers were often left in the dark after a loved one was admitted to a hospital and were given little, if any, training on how to perform the medical tasks they would need to provide once the patient was discharged. Despite the best efforts and intentions of these dedicated family caregivers, failure to perform these tasks properly could result in their loved one being readmitted to a hospital or sent to a nursing home for additional care.
The Georgia Caregivers Act can help prevent this. The new law ensures three important things:
- Patients can now identify a caregiver upon admission to the hospital;
- Hospital staff will notify the identified caregiver of plans to discharge the patient; and,
- Hospital staff will be required to provide family caregivers with live instruction and training on any medical tasks to be performed at home.
The unpaid care provided by Georgia’s family caregivers – valued at about $13.2 billion per year – helps keep older Georgians out of costly, taxpayer-funded institutions or from going back into the hospital. In 2021, more than half of Georgia’s hospitals were penalized for excessive patient readmissions. The Georgia Caregivers Act could help prevent some of these costly readmissions.
AARP Georgia worked hard for the Georgia Caregivers Act and will work just as hard to make sure all Georgians know about this new law and how to make it work for them. For more information, visit www.aarp.org/ga or call AARP Georgia at 866-295-7281.
While the November elections are behind us, the issues that matter most to voters 50+ will be on the ballot in the U.S. Senate runoff election on January 5th. AARP Georgia continues to work to inform 50+ voters about their voting options and amplify our voices to remind candidates about what is at stake. We need leaders who will protect Social Security, Medicare and our financial stability during and beyond this pandemic.
Supporting candidates who will provide COVID-19 relief will make a difference for AARP members and our families. In addition, Medicare is expected to lose the necessary funds to pay full hospital benefits, due to rising health care costs, an increase in prescription drug prices, and less incoming revenue. Social Security is only expected to be able to pay full benefits until 2034. After that, it will only cover 79% of its promised benefits, which means one thing: candidates need to talk about how they’re going to protect this program.”
Not only do we need leaders focused on these issues, we also need leaders to be transparent with our community and speak out on racial justice issues, because the safety of our families continues to be at risk. The poll showed that the most important issues to Black 50+ voters are the pandemic, honesty in government, and racial justice.
AARP Georgia will continue to demand action from the candidates on behalf of our members to make sure they address the issues that matter to 50+ voters. So, make a plan to vote in the runoff elections for the U.S. Senate on January 5th.
Registered voters can cast an absentee ballot during these elections. You can also cast your vote early in person today. To find out when and how you can vote early or to request a ballot, visit www.sos.ga.gov/elections.
For more information on voting safely and to learn more about where each of the candidates stand on our issues visit www.aarp.org/gavotes.
Even in the best of times, social isolation is a significant problem in the aging population. In Georgia, 669,000 people over the age of 50 live alone and are at higher risk of social isolation, now magnified by “social distancing” requirements.
That’s worrisome. In fact, the World Health Organization was so concerned that the “social distancing” directive was contributing to isolation that it has modified the wording of its guidance: It now urges people to practice “physical distancing” to prevent the spread of the virus.
Make no mistake: The long-term effects of social isolation are very real. Over a prolonged period, the impact of social isolation is as harmful to an individual as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. In fact, isolation is more dangerous to one’s health than obesity, and it’s linked to a greater likelihood of early death, accelerated cognitive decline, poor cardiovascular function, stroke and depression in adults 50 and older.
We may have all scaled back our personal interactions to stay safe, but that doesn’t mean we have to be alone. Today’s technology offers myriad ways to keep in touch with family, friends, neighbors and loved ones. Here are some steps to stay connected:
Measure your risk for isolation – or that of your loved one – at AARP Foundation’s Connect2Affect.org. This platform also provides lists of community assistance programs for medical care, food, and job training.
Plug into the growing number of mutual aid groups that organize volunteers to assist older neighbors by, for example, picking up prescriptions or going grocery shopping for them. AARP recently launched the “Community Connections” tool, also in Spanish at www.aarp.org/MiComunidad, to help you find a group in your area. You can also request a “friendly call” from an AARP volunteer through the website or by calling 1-888-281-0145.
Go virtual. Many in-person activities are now being offered online. Your local fitness center, for example, might be offering virtual exercise classes. Or perhaps your book club now meets online. AARP’s website [www.aarp.org/coronavirus] offers daily fitness videos, links to movies that stream online, and other ideas to stay active and engaged during this difficult time.
Volunteer to provide critical services. It’s a way to assist others while also helping you find purpose and avoid isolation. Mentors and tutors, for example, are always in high demand and both roles can easily be filled remotely. You might also want to volunteer to answer helpline calls related to the pandemic. Visit https://createthegood.aarp.org.
Identify vulnerable older adults in your family or neighborhood and make a plan to have someone reach out to them on a regular basis by phone, text, email or virtual chat. This is an excellent opportunity to introduce someone to Zoom, Skype or Facetime.
If you are working from home, consider virtual lunches or happy hours. It’s important to take time to catch up with your colleagues on a more informal level.
Go old school. Reach out to a family member or friend by sending a letter or postcard. Enclose a photo or two in the letter to spark a fond memory.
“Physical distancing, so critical right now, does not have to mean social disconnection. We can maintain and even increase our social connectedness during this difficult time,” says Lisa Marsh Ryerson, President of AARP Foundation, which is exploring creative ways to help older adults connect and stay connected — to each other and to their communities.
If there is one thing that this pandemic has made clear, it’s that personal connections are immensely valuable and sorely missed. Let’s resolve to keep those links strong and vibrant during this crisis, especially for our most vulnerable family, friends and neighbors.
Family caregivers perform unpaid care valued at $470 billion a year, helping their loved ones stay at home—and out of costly institutional care, often paid for by Medicaid. In every state, the value of this unpaid care is greater than the annual cost of Medicaid for institutional stays, like nursing homes, and services to help people remain at home.
In Georgia, 1.3 million family caregivers provide unpaid care valued at a staggering
$14 million annually. Caregivers also take on the unexpected financial responsibility, which can be an unintended drain on family finance. Being a family caregiver is no easy feat and a duty that can take a toll on anyone.
Just as you need work/life balance, you need caregiver/life balance. AARP recommends taking time for yourself, whether spending time with friends, or exercise, to focus on self-care. You can find more information on creating a successful caregiver-life balance at www.aarp.org/caregiving/life-balance.
For decades now, AARP has been fighting for America’s 40 million caregivers’ rights. Every day, millions of Americans perform this great labor of love by helping their loved ones remain at home. Family caregivers assist with medications and medical care, meals, bathing, dressing, and much more. Many do it all while also working full- or part-time.
AARP offers resources to help you live your best life, all the while ensuring that your loved ones have the attention they deserve. We have a wealth of information that can help you become an effective caregiver. For more information log on to www.aarp.org/caregiving or visit us on Facebook at Facebook.com/AARPGeorgia.
Dear Boom Athens Readers,
This may not come as a surprise to many of you, but Americans pay the highest brand-name drug prices in the world. Congress, the Administration, and importantly, our own Georgia legislators must take action now to lower prescription drug prices, the root cause of this problem.
That’s why AARP is launching a national campaign urging federal and state policymakers to Stop Rx Greed by cracking down on price-gouging drug companies. AARP’s goal is to help lower drug prices for all Americans through decisive actions and solutions aimed not only at the Federal level but also at the State level.
In 2017, the average annual cost for one brandname medication used on a chronic basis was almost $6,800. For the average older American taking 4.5 prescription drugs per month, the average annual cost of therapy would have been more than $30,000. No American should be forced to choose between paying for the medicines they need and paying for food, rent, or other necessities.
We urge Georgia lawmakers to work together with all members of Congress now to protect older Americans and pass bipartisan, commonsense legislation to lower prescription drug prices.
For more information about how you can let your voice be heard, go to www.aarp.org/advocacy.
A family caregiver is defined as an adult age 18 or older who is providing unpaid, short-term or long-term care to a parent, spouse, friend or other adult loved one who needs help with everyday activities and personal tasks such as transportation, managing finances, scheduling appointments, shopping, bathing, dressing, preparing meals, wound care and/or medication management.
For those who are part of the LGBT community, we need to understand and enhance a unique caregiver support structure often made up of “family of choice” friends rather than blood relatives. “What we do, we do for all” is a guiding principle articulated by our founder, distinguished educator Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, and we proudly carry it forward.
AARP’s unwavering commitment to the LGBT community reflects our core belief in the dignity, worth, and potential of every individual. We reject discrimination based on a person’s age, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity. We see diversity as a source of strength.
Our commitment can be measured by what we say—and what we do. With almost 900,000 of our nearly 38 million members self-identifying as LGBT, AARP may have one of the largest constituencies of LGBT members among US membership organizations. We are dedicated to the principle that LGBT individuals should not face discrimination from entities that 50+ adults traditionally rely upon for support, such as health care institutions, housing centers, meal providers, senior centers, and other vital government services. At AARP, we work hard every day to fight for and equip individuals to live their best lives. For more information about available resources, please visit www.aarp.org/pride.
Some of this is driven by necessity, while some folks just don’t feel likethey’re ready to end their productivity in the workforce. To this end, AARPoffers great resources to help individuals who are preparing for their second– or even third – encore careers.
I strongly encourage you to check out the AARP Work & Jobs website– www.aarp.org/work – that provides information, tools and connections toa variety of resources. Highlights include:
- A list of companies that value experienced workers and recruit acrossdiverse age groups
- Tips for those who are looking for work or just exploring their options.• Information, tools and programs to empower and guide workers whoare contemplating a career change.
- Help in navigating your work life by connecting you to trusted resourcesand peer networks.
- Information, programs and expert insight on how to stay competitiveand prosper in the workplace.
Remember: You are part of a revolution! You are among the firstgeneration of Americans who routinely change careers after 50. Thecenturies-old pattern – to work at the same job or profession right up toretirement – is becoming obsolete. In its place: a career path marked bynew jobs, new starts, even new businesses, continuing for as long as youhave a passion for work. The proof is in the data. For example, one studyshows that 40 percent of people working at age 62 had changed careerssince they turned 55. I am 62 and living my best life at AARP!
Before embarking on your “encore career,” AARP Jobs Expert KerryHannon offers these 10 tips:
- Understand what’s behind your desire to make a change.
- Get your life in order.
- Be practical.
- Find a mentor.
- Be prepared for setbacks.
- Volunteer or moonlight.
- Don’t lock yourself into a must-have salary.
- Keep your hand out of the cookie jar.
- Do something every day to work toward your goal.
For more great tips, please follow Kerry on Twitter@kerryhannon.PS. If you are ready to retire but would still like to put your considerableexperience and knowledge to good use, I invite you to become an AARPGeorgia volunteer! As we continue to advocate for those who are 50+, weare looking for committed and passionate volunteers who want to help usshare our efforts in Caregiving, Fraud Watch, LGBTQ, LivableCommunities and Advocacy. Please connect with us at 866- 295-7281. You also can reach us on Facebook @AARPGeorgia and Twitter @AARPGA.
Dear BoomAthens Readers,
This edition is dedicated to all women, mothers, daughters, wives, and sisters and those friends who are just like sisters.
Throughout history, women have transformed society. Women are teachers, mothers, police officers, soldiers, CEOs and everything in between. When it comes to movies and TV shows, women are portrayed as pioneers rather than sidekicks. To be frank, women are powerful.
Since women began voting in 1920, we have swarmed the polls in record numbers, but it wasn’t until 1980 that women began to outnumber men at the polls, according to Rutgers University Research. We need to maintain that same level of commitment in the coming elections.
Women compose the majority of the population, meaning they hold majority of the vote in this country. Women turn out at the polls at a higher rate than their male counterparts every year and outvoted men by more than 3 percent in the 2016 presidential elections, according to the U.S Census Bureau. What that means is that the future of this nation, of your state, and of your local government rests upon the shoulders of women, just like us.
AARP conducted a survey in 2016, focused on understanding the issues causing women the most anxiety in our current political climate. The majority said they were or have been family caregivers, and they want their elected officials’ political agendas to reflect that. Women want politicians to start the conversation about how they would support family caregivers who provide unpaid care to aging parents or spouses or other adult family members.
We need to make our voices heard and ensure that our elected officials are putting the needs of voters first and acting with our best interests in mind. Together, as women, we can make an impact on the outcome of this election season and focus the agenda on the issues that matter most to us.
We are the past, present and future. The outcome of the 2018 midterm election is up to us. Together we can be the difference. We owe it to ourselves and our families to exercise our right to vote and do what’s in their and our better interests. Take our pledge to vote at www.aarp.com/vote. Be the Difference. Vote.
All the best,
State Director, AARP Georgia