Caregivers Receive Help from ND Legislature

As families age, roles change. Children who were once taken care of are now the caregivers. In North Dakota, more than 62,000 people assume that role.

"This is just fantastic. North Dakota's stepped up by setting up a legislative commission to actually take a look at what's happening with family caregivers and there are only a few in the nation that are doing the same," said Elaine Ryan, AARP vice president of state advocacy and strategy.

Ryan knows the struggle of being a caretaker, as she became one herself when her mother needed help. She now fights for caregiver assistance throughout the country.

"It gives me great heart. We know that if those family caregivers in North Dakota weren't doing what they do every day out of love, their family members would end up in costly institutions and they would lose their dream to live in their homes and communities the way they want to live," said Ryan.

Caregivers in North Dakota take care of a range of tasks, from managing medications to transportation. Lawmakers will look at ways to help these workers with workplace flexibility and support during hospital transitions.

"I'm very optimistic. I think this state is very compassionate and we're very concerned about our senior citizens," said Rep. Kathy Hogan, D-Fargo.

During the past legislative session, lawmakers passed legislation giving public employees in the state 12 weeks off for family care giving; 10 more weeks than before. It appears that more help could be on the way in 2017.

In 2013, North Dakotans gave 58 million hours of their lives to help loved ones live as fully as possible.

That's an economic value of about $860 million, according the the AARP.

If you'd like more information on care giving and resources, visit aarp.org/caregiving.