First Lady Rosalyn Carter famously declared, “there are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.”
The 459,000 family caregivers in Connecticut provide help with daily tasks ranging from cooking to nursing needs, care coordination, and medication management. Together family caregivers make up the backbone of our health care system, delivering approximately $5.9 billion of unpaid care annually in Connecticut. The job is satisfying, but hard.
After 41 years as a school teacher in New Haven, I was eager to enjoy retirement, but life changed drastically when my mother was rushed to the hospital at age 89. She was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and kidney disease.
Suddenly, I was back on a “job” full-time, but as a family caregiver, not a teacher. Without hesitation, I did what so many family members do — I sprang into action, piecing together and cobbling supports that would keep my mother safe at home. I committed myself to the role, taking care of the food shopping, medical and doctor visits, and managing mom’s finances. It wasn’t easy, but thankfully, I had help from programs like the CT Home Care Program for Elders.
The CT Home Care Program for Elders was a lifeline for me and my mom. The program provided homemaker aides to help with meal preparation, visiting nurses to administer medication, and adult day care that gave me a brief respite, while mom connected and engaged with her peers. Most importantly, the program gave me the resources to honor my mom’s last wish — to live at home, surrounded by family and friends, for as long as she was able.
I am grateful the CT Home Care Program for Elders was there for my mom, and that’s why I feel so strongly that we must reject the Governor’s cut to home care services, which will eliminate essential services for seniors in the future. The Governor’s proposal would drastically reduce care for older adults who want to remain at home. Cutting these services will put older residents at risk and cost taxpayers more money in nursing home fees. Legislators must reject this harmful cut.
Lois Cody is a retired school teacher and former family caregiver living in North Haven, CT. She wrote this on behalf of AARP Connecticut, which is included among the sponsors of this website.
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