Updated: Aug 3
When I was in the prime of my career, living in Chicago, my mom was going through cancer surgeries. It was skin cancer in a number of locations, but most awfully on her feet. After surgery, she would be bedridden for days but sometimes weeks. She hesitated to interrupt our lives to ask for help, but to me, it was not even debatable. It was time to show up for my mom, so I would go back and forth for the next year to help her through those recoveries.
Years later, my dear father had his own valiant fight against colon cancer. I actually decided to quit a job that was unsupportive of time off needed for caring for him. I remember I felt punished for doing the right thing and this is still my feeling that something needs to change.
Among female caregivers, 33 percent have decreased their working hours, while 29 percent have declined promotions; 20 percent switched to part time; 16 percent have quit a job and 13 percent have retired early, all in the name of providing care.
In our District, I have met a lot of caregivers who are helping their parents or loved ones. Some live with their ill parent, some have found them a home in a long-term care facility, and some are just diligently checking in on someone who is living by themselves. I admire these people. Plus, in my area, we have some great elder care organizations they can connect with that might provide respite or assistance of one kind or another like Respite Volunteers-Shiawassee or Visiting Angels.
But, how does our State Legislature care for our caregivers?
Your immediate income is cut, no safety net
Your lifetime benefits are lowered
Your elder care years (typically a woman lives well beyond her mate) are stressed to lower-level social security benefits as a result of providing care instead of earning income
It is my opinion that caregivers should be rewarded for their contributions, not punished.
Hawaii is the first state to enact a law that provides daily caregiver stipend for working caregivers and I think Michigan should be the second state to stand up for caregivers. The purpose of the law is to help caregivers stay in the workplace as long as possible while still being able to provide care to loved ones so that they can be as healthy and independent as possible. This is especially important as we face a Pandemic where our elderly are more at risk and housebound. Much more can be done beyond the stipend and I will fight at the Capitol to support this vital part of our community.
Have you ever been a caregiver? Share your story with me and help me represent you in Lansing to create programs that reward your sacrifice, support your loved ones, and create a better community. Support Andrea!