Support Louisiana House Bill 281

Published 4:31 am Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Dear Editor,

This month, Bogalusa AARP Chapter 4032 will join with many others across the nation in commemorating National Older Americans Month. The projected number of the American population age 65 and older in 2060 is estimated to be 98.2 million. People in this age group will comprise nearly one in four U.S. residents. And of this number, 19.7 million will be age 85 or older — this information is taken from Older Americans Month May 2017 from the U.S, Census Bureau. There are now more Americans age 65 and older than at any other time in U.S. history.

One effort Bogalusa AARP is supporting, in cooperation with Louisiana AARP, is House Bill 281. This legislation gives nursing home residents and their family members the option to install a video monitoring device in the resident’s room. This is a common-sense piece of legislation that allows family members to be a part of their loved ones’ care team in a nursing home setting. This opportunity for virtual visitation will help family caregivers to remain connected with their loved ones and to be more involved in the resident’s care.

As a mother of one child, my daughter who lives in Indiana, I think if I were ever confined to a nursing home, House Bill 281 may be of tremendous assistance to my daughter in monitoring my nursing home care from a long distance away.

Some family members who live in another city or state have to coordinate or provide care for loved ones from afar. These long-distance caregivers have the same concerns and pressures local caregivers have — including high levels of emotional stress. They also tend to spend more of their own money on caregiving because they’re more likely to need to hire help, take time off work (which may or may not be paid time off) and pay for expenses related to travel. The ability for a family caregiver to use a monitoring device will provide the caregiver peace of mind by providing another way to view and interact with a loved one receiving care in a nursing facility.

HB 281, which has 59 co-authors, passed the House with no opposition. As this bill continues to the Senate floor, I urge caregivers to contact their senators and ask them to support this meaningful legislation as its currently written, with no amendments that could weaken the impact. And I hope the senators listen to the constituents in their districts who would receive peace of mind from this legislation, and vote yes.

Emma Dixon