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How the CARE Act Can Help Family Caregivers After a Hospital Discharge

Sherry Christiansen
By Sherry ChristiansenApril 18, 2019
How the CARE Act Can Help Family Caregivers After a Hospital Discharge

In the United States, 40 states have enacted a law to help family caregivers care for their parents or senior loved ones after a hospital discharge. The law is called the CARE Act – but what is the act and how can caregivers get access to it?

Learn more about the CARE Act and how it can help caregivers after a loved one’s hospitalization or rehabilitation facility stay.

The CARE Act

The CARE (Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable) Act was enacted to help the growing number of family caregivers bridge the gap between medical procedures in the hospital and the hospital discharge to home.

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In other words, the CARE Act helps caregivers know what to do and how to do it after a parent or senior loved one’s hospitalization.

The CARE Act requires that hospitals and rehabilitation facilities:

  1. Inform the family caregiver in advance when a loved one will be discharged from a hospital/rehabilitation facility to another facility or discharged to home.
  2. Keep on record the contact information and name of the family caregiver at the hospital or rehabilitation center the loved one is admitted to.
  3. Provide teaching (including an explanation and live instruction) to family caregivers about any type of medical tasks — such as how to transfer the patient, medication management and wound care, etc. — that the caregiver will need to do, once a loved one is discharged from the hospital.

Ways the CARE Act Helps Caregivers After a Hospital Discharge

According to an AARP report, approximately 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the past 12 months.

Today’s family caregivers manage a wide range of complex medical procedures that once was reserved only for professional doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists, including:

  • Administering injectable medications
  • Administering medications
  • Managing prescribed diets
  • Operating specialized equipment or health monitoring devices
  • Providing wound care

Most caregivers don’t feel confident performing some of the highly technical procedures that their loved ones need without any type of formal education. This is one reason that AARP proposed the CARE Act across the country.

There are currently 40 states in the U.S. (including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) that have adopted the CARE Act:

  1. Alaska
  2. Arkansas
  3. California
  4. Colorado
  5. Connecticut
  6. Delaware
  7. District of Columbia
  8. Hawaii
  9. Illinois
  10. Indiana
  11. Kansas
  12. Kentucky
  13. Louisiana
  14. Maine
  15. Maryland
  16. Massachusetts
  17. Michigan
  18. Minnesota
  19. Mississippi
  20. Missouri
  21. Montana
  22. Nebraska
  23. Nevada
  24. New Hampshire
  25. New Jersey
  26. New Mexico
  27. New York
  28. Ohio
  29. Oklahoma
  30. Oregon
  31. Pennsylvania
  32. Rhode Island
  33. Texas
  34. Utah
  35. Virginia
  36. Virgin Islands
  37. Washington
  38. West Virginia
  39. Wyoming
  40. Puerto Rico

States that are not listed above have not yet passed the CARE Act.

If you are one of the 40 million family caregivers in the U.S. who cares for an aging parent or senior loved one, you may already know how stressful a hospitalization can be. The CARE Act is a tool that AARP hopes will help caregivers, who need all the support they can get while caring for a loved one after a hospitalization or rehabilitation facility stay.

Has the CARE Act been passed in your state? What has your experience been like caring for a loved one after a hospital discharge? We’d like to hear your stories and thoughts in the comments below.

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Sherry Christiansen
Sherry Christiansen

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