The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an increase in family members needing to step up as caregivers for their loved ones.
AARP estimates there are 600,000 family caregivers in Wisconsin. These are people that are doing this work unpaid and with little to no training.
AARP Wisconsin is urging lawmakers to pass two bills that would support caregivers.
One is the Wisconsin Credit for Caring Act and the other is the Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable Act.
AARP Wisconsin’s Director of State-Issues Advocacy Helen Marks Dicks said family caregivers make it possible for people to stay in their home and get the medical help they need rather than going to a facility.
“We think they need help in both education in learning how to do their job better and they need a little financial support because they do spend about $7,000 a year trying to keep people at home,” said Dicks.
The “CARE Act” would help family caregivers when their loved-ones go into the hospital, and as they transition home.
“Most importantly, when someone is discharged from the hospital, teach them what needs to be done, not just a piece of paper, but actually hands on teaching them what needs to be done medication management, wound care, oxygen masks management, taking care of feeding tubes, whatever needs to be done,” said Dicks.
The “Wisconsin Credit for Caring Act” would create a $1,000 nonrefundable, individual income-tax credit for certain expenses that are incurred by a family caregiver to assist a qualified family member.
“Once people end up in an institution, the fact that they’d end up on government programs is pretty high so it saves taxpayers in the long run to have people stay at home, taking care of the family and this will take some of the pressure off the family financially,” Dicks said.
Late last year, AARP Wisconsin released the results of a statewide survey showing that nearly nine in 10 registered voters who are 40 or older support the creation of a state income-tax credit to help family caregivers who incur expenses for the care and support of a loved one.
Dicks is optimistic these bills will pass into law during the next legislative session.