11-07-2019 Columns

Family caregivers are unsung heroes

November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to recognize and celebrate all who sacrifice to take care of those they love. According to AARP, family caregiving is on the rise in Michigan, particularly as members of the baby boomer generation become older. AARP estimates there are more than a million caregivers in our state each year, and they provide 1.4 billion hours of free care to loved ones. Collectively, this work is valued at more than $15.5 billion yet, remarkably, is done for free out of love. Family caregivers dedicate their own time to helping take care of their parents, spouses and other loved ones to ensure their well-being in time of need. Often, however, while needs may be many and the willingness to help is great, caregivers find themselves unprepared in knowing how best to provide care. In 2016, Michigan enacted new legislation that ensures caregivers receive improved training and support when it comes to caring for loved ones. Referred to as the CARE Act, the Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable Act, provides in-home caregivers who are designated by soon-to-be discharged patients with hospital-provided consultation and instruction for any after-care assistance tasks that do not require a licensed professional once a patient is released. The training comes as part of a patient’s discharge plan and covers tasks like assisting with bathing and dressing, transportation, finances and more complex medical tasks, like administering wound care and medication injections. One study showed that this type of program in New Jersey reduced hospital readmission rates by 13%, saving $52 million. Only time will tell how beneficial the CARE Act will be in Michigan. If you would like more information about the CARE Act or about caregiving, check out aarp.org/mi or aarp.org/caregiving. As always, residents can contact my office with any state or local issues by calling (517) 373-6960 or emailing senklasata@senate.michigan.gov.

Veterans Day, be sure to thank our veterans

Monday is Veterans Day, an opportunity for the American people to honor the service and sacrifice of our nation’s heroes and their families. Their courage and devotion to our freedoms inspire all of us. In Congress, the easiest votes I take are ones to support our veterans. Recently, I helped pass two bills that President Trump signed into law aimed at providing better support for our veterans. The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act extended coverage to those who served off the coast of Vietnam and were potentially exposed to Agent Orange, a deadly chemical used against our troops. I also cosponsored the VA Mission Act which expanded high quality healthcare to our veterans through the Veterans Community Care Program. This new program provides veterans access to community care and urgent care if the VA does not offer the care veterans need based on eligibility criteria. I will always be a strong advocate for our veterans and their families and will fight for the issues that matter most to them here in Washington, D.C. My dad is a veteran. These issues are personal for me. This Veterans Day when you see one of our nation’s heroes, be sure to thank them. Their bravery is why we are still the home of the free. To learn more about other important legislative issues, follow me on Twitter at @RepFredUpton or visit my website: upton.house.gov. You can also call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/ Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

Carbon monoxide awareness

When power outages occur after severe weather, using alternative sources of power can cause carbon monoxide (CO) to build up in a home and poison the people and animals inside. Every year, at least 430 people die in the U. S. from accidental CO poisoning. Approximately 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency department each year due to accidental CO poisoning. There are steps you can take to help protect yourself and your household from CO poisoning. Change the batteries in your CO detector every six months. If you don’t have a battery-powered or battery back-up CO detector, buy one soon. CO is found in fumes produced by portable generators, stoves, lanterns, and gas ranges, or by burning charcoal and wood. CO