Nebraska Lawmakers Urged to Support Family Caregivers
Monday, March 21, 2022
The strain of unpaid family care-giving is pressing down hard on many Nebraska residents, according to new AARP research.
Nearly half of people surveyed have experienced increased emotional distress, and more than a quarter said they had to spend more out of pocket.
Todd Stubbendieck, state director of AARP Nebraska, said caretakers help people stay in their homes as they age - where most prefer to be - and out of nursing homes that frequently rely on state funds.
"That family member isn't having to go to some sort of long-term care facility," said Stubbendieck. "So these family caregivers not only are helping their loved ones stay at home, they're also helping taxpayers as well."
Nebraska's 240,000 family caregivers contribute more than 199 million hours of unpaid care each year, valued at nearly $3 billion.
State lawmakers are considering LB 290 - a measure that would ensure working caregivers are not forced to take unpaid leave, and risk losing their job, or move loved ones into facilities to get the care they need.
Some critics of the measure worry that businesses operating on thin margins can't afford to pay workers for time to care for family members, but more than seven in 10 Nebraska voters surveyed support requiring employers to provide at least some paid family leave.
Stubbendieck said he believes those benefits can actually help employers struggling in a tight labor market.
"Offering these sorts of benefits and opportunities for people to take care of loved ones," said Stubbendieck, "also becomes an incentive as well that helps them to help attract better workers."
AARP offers a Nebraska Family Caregiver Resource guide, at AARP.org/caregiverresources, which shows where people can get assistance in their communities.
Stubbendieck said many Nebraskans don't realize that they are, in fact, family caregivers.
"They're just helping out mom or grandpa or another loved one because that's what we do," said Stubbendieck. "If they don't recognize that they are a family caregiver, they don't necessarily have access to the resources out there that are designed to help them."
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