Caring for the Caregivers
The cost of caregiving – unpaid caregivers in the U.S. provide services worth $470 billion according to the AARP. Around half of cancer caregivers have jobs while caregiving. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires that employers with 50 or more workers allow caregivers to take off work for up to 12 weeks annually without pay to care for a parent, spouse or child. Four states – California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New York pass laws enacting paid family leave programs funded through payroll taxes that allow caregivers to receive part of their usual salary while on leave. Since 2014, 39 states have passed the Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable (CARE) Act. This legislation, developed by AARP, requires hospitals to ask patients if they would like to have hospital staff include the name of a designated caregiver in their records, notify that person when the patient is going to be discharged or moved, and provide training to the caregiver on what to do to help the patient at home. It is not easy for the caregiver to remember all that was learned in a training session. There is much information being given to patients and their families, and it can be overwhelming because of the anxiety, stress, and uncertainty of being prepared to handle things at home once discharge takes place.