Last week, I was thrilled to announce additional support for Rhode Island families caring for their aging or disabled loved ones with special needs. We all have, or know someone who has, a family member who requires full time care. A new $250,000 grant to the state's Division of Elderly Affairs (DEA) will provide these families greater access to respite care services, delivering relief to families while making long-term care more affordable.
Short-term, or "respite," care provides planned or emergency relief when people require a temporary break from the full-time task of caring for family members with special needs. Rhode Island's model offers the exact type of assistance intended by the Lifespan Respite Care Act, which I coauthored with Republican Congressman Michael Ferguson.
Supporting respite programs also has huge economic benefits by reducing expensive out-of-home placements, which raise overall health care costs. In Rhode Island, more than 114,000 people are estimated to provide totally uncompensated care worth $1.4 billion a year. We can achieve even greater savings, while allowing more patients to stay at home, by expanding respite services that nearly 90 percent of family caregivers still do not receive.
I'm proud that our state, under the leadership of DEA Director Catherine Taylor and her partners, is setting a national standard, working to offer services every day to families who just need a little assistance with their loved ones, whether it is for a father with Alzheimer's disease, a mother with Multiple Sclerosis, a husband injured from the war in Iraq, or a child with autism.
You can find more information here, and feel free to call my office at 732-9400.
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