Caring for Mom and Dad, a PBS documentary sponsored by AARP, explores the emotional, health and financial challenges faced by caregivers as parents age. The film, which is narrated by award-winning actress Meryl Streep, premieres at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 11 on OETA. It can also be watched online at: www.pbs.org/caringformomanddad.
AARP Oklahoma State President Joe Ann Vermillion of McAlester said individuals and groups across the state are planning “watch parties” to the view the documentary and talk about how the CARE Act is helping caregivers in Oklahoma. To help facilitate discussions, AARP is making online resources available including Prepare to Care, a planning guide for families which can be downloaded at: www.aarp.org/ok. A short video explaining how the CARE Act helps Oklahoma caregivers is available at: action.aarp.org/okcaregiving.
In addition, AARP urges Oklahomans to share their personal caregiving stories at: www.iheartcaregivers.org.
“Oklahoma caregivers face the same struggles portrayed in the documentary, like balancing their own lives and careers and juggling finances while caring for aging parents,” Vermillion said. “And with thousands of baby boomers now at retirement age in the state, this is an issue that most Oklahomans will face in the future if they haven’t already.”
An AARP survey conducted last year in Oklahoma revealed that 66 percent believed they would likely be an unpaid caregiver in the future for a relative, spouse or friend.
Vermillion said AARP worked with legislators and Governor Fallin to help Oklahoma become the first state in the nation to pass the CARE Act, which improves post-discharge health outcomes, reduces costly hospital readmissions and enables older Oklahomans to continue living independently in their own homes.
The CARE Act allows a patient to designate a caregiver when they are admitted to the hospital and calls for caregivers to be notified before the patient is discharged and consulted on how to care for the patient after they return home.
According to AARP research, 94 percent of Oklahomans agreed that having a designated and well-instructed family caregiver could help patients stay in their homes longer rather than being placed in a more costly assisted living facility or nursing home. The same percentage said it was important to them to be able to return and recover in their own home after being discharged from a hospital.
Vermillion says supporting caregivers will continue to be a top priority for AARP Oklahoma, which is planning additional educational opportunities this year in local communities, including film screenings, webinars and public service announcements.
“As Meryl Streep says in the film, ‘Soon, the old will outnumber the young, and most will live longer than ever before.’ With the national ratio of potential family caregivers to each care recipient expected to plunge from the current 7-to-1 to just 3-to-1, there are a lot of questions left to be answered about caregiving in Oklahoma. One thing is certain: we must do everything possible to provide resources that strengthen and support caregivers.”
Caring for Mom and Dad airs statewide at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 11th on OETA. It can also be viewed online at: www.pbs.org/caringformomanddad.