The 178,000 unpaid caregivers in Maine who provide assistance to family members or friends who can no longer take care of themselves frequently go unnoticed and underappreciated.

Family caregivers play a critical role in care transitions, especially as their loved ones move from hospitals to rehabilitation centers and back home. Nearly 50 percent of family caregivers perform medical/nursing tasks, often with little or no explanation or guidance. Simple yet profound changes can be made to support family caregivers so they can safely care for their loved ones at home and prevent unnecessary hospitalizations or re-hospitalizations following surgery or treatment.

Statistics show that one of every eight Medicare beneficiaries is re-admitted to the hospital within 30 days because of the lack of proper transitional care. That’s why AARP Maine is committed to advancing common-sense legislative solutions to provide some basic support for family caregivers that will make big responsibilities a little bit easier.

This year, AARP Maine successfully worked with Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, and a bipartisan group of co-sponsors on the Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable (CARE) Act. This new law, designed to directly support caregivers who help loved ones remain in their own homes, went into effect on Thursday. Under the CARE Act, the hospital will record the name of the patient’s caregiver, who will be informed when the patient is being discharged from the hospital and given detailed instructions about how to best care for their loved one.

This is an important step in our efforts to give family caregivers the recognition they deserve, and we thank Gattine for his leadership on this issue. Caregivers in need of support can visit the AARP Caregiver Resource Center at or call 1-877-333-5885.

Lori Parham, director

AARP Maine, Portland

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