Navigating legislation related to caregiving can be an intimidating prospect. First and foremost, it can be tough to make time to read and deal with the documents, particularly if you’re already providing care to an aging individual. Plus, legislation related to caregiving can be confusing. Laws may differ from region to region, and your specific area may have its own specific rules or regulations.
However, familiarizing yourself with important caregiving resources and laws can help ease your burden and improve your well-being in the long run.
Key legislation related to caregiving
Caregiving laws generally focus on the rights of the caregiver—particularly, protection around time off work.
However, it’s worth noting there isn’t just one standard when it comes to caregiving. Regulations and specifics can vary from state to state, so be sure to check the laws in your specific area.
Family and Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a law protecting the work rights of caregivers and states that caregivers may be entitled to take extended time off of work in order to provide ongoing care for qualifying individuals. For the duration of the time spent providing care, employers are obligated to continue health insurance and also restore the employee to either the same or an equivalent position upon their return.
Senior Care Act
The Senior Care Act is another key piece of legislation related to caregiving. This is a non-Medicaid program that helps provide assistance for elderly individuals to allow them to keep living at home versus in a facility. The program also provides support for family members to be hired and paid as care providers.
Key resources for long-term care
The idea of long-term care might sound scary—not to mention expensive. However, a variety of resources are available to help ease the burden of long-term caregiving:
LongTermCare.gov: This website provides guidance and tips for how to create a long-term care plan and how to put it into action.
Medicaid.gov: This is the largest public fund for long-term care services, and you’ll find plenty of assistance and information for determining what kind of Medicaid coverage an individual might qualify for. You can also find counseling on things like State Health Information and Assistance Programs (SHIPs), programs that offer counseling on managing and making the most of programs like Medicare, Medi-gap and long-term care insurance.
Area Agencies on Aging: This website offers a local directory with information about programs and services in specific regions related to caring for the elderly. They offer and coordinate services that can help older adults remain in their homes longer, such as home-delivered meals, homemaker assistance and other services.
Guide For Home Improvements: This complimentary PDF guide offers helpful tips for altering a home to make it more accessible for aging individuals. A little proactive work can help prevent falls, injuries and provide greater peace of mind.
Key resources for caregivers
Are you a caregiver looking for more assistance in providing care? Consider checking out some of these helpful resources:
Healthfinder.gov: On this website, you’ll find a page called “Get Support If You are a Caregiver.” Not every caregiver is an internet whiz or well-versed on health care issues. This website helps provide support.
Guide for Distance Caregiving: It’s fairly common for caregiving to be conducted at a distance—sometimes from an hour away or even greater distances. This complimentary PDF guide offers detailed information and tips for caregivers who may be at a distance from the person they’re caring for.
National Family Caregiver Support Program: On this website, you’ll find resources and links for support regarding responsibilities related to caregiving.
Federal Resources For Caregivers: This website offers a list of federal agency-provided resources for caregivers.
Tax considerations for caregivers
If you’re a caregiver, it’s well worth familiarizing yourself with some of the tax breaks you may be entitled to. In 2017, the Child Tax Credit (CTC) was expanded to include caregiving responsibilities. While it was previously used to claim credit for children under an individual’s care, it now allows taxpayers to claim as much as $500 as a nonrefundable “Credit for Other Dependents.” Elderly parents under care could be included in this category.
Don’t go it alone
While the amount of paperwork and literature out there can be overwhelming, it’s worth taking the time and effort to explore the many laws and resources available to caregivers. The many government and private programs out there are designed to assist and enable caregivers ton have a better quality of life. By familiarizing yourself with these laws and resources, you can ease the burden of the important yet challenging job of caregiving and ultimately take care of your family.