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Editorial: Utah should help those who help their own

Published July 9, 2014 11:24 am

Aid families caring for their own.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

"There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America." — President Bill Clinton, First Inaugural

But there is, apparently, something wrong with Utah caused, accidentally, by something very right with Utah. That's the lesson to be drawn from a new report from the organization formerly known as the American Association for Retired People — now just AARP.

Statistics from Utah add up to the conclusion that we are second from the top in terms of states who resist any urge to leave our old and disabled people in hospitals, nursing homes or other institutional care.

That's a good thing. It is often both kinder and cheaper to care for the frail and disabled in a home setting, with family members seeing to their needs in a familiar, comfortable setting.

But we are rock bottom last in terms of providing aid and comfort for the family members who dutifully — and/or lovingly — take their physically needy relatives back into their own homes to care for them as best they can.

Thus does no good deed go unpunished in Utah.

The state's family-friendly vibe encourages more of our friends and neighbors to take in their own relatives rather than leave them to the care of public facilities. That's not only kinder, it also is a big savings to taxpayers and premium payers who would otherwise be on the hook for hospital, nursing home and rehab care.

It would be only fair, then, if the state were to provide more relatively inexpensive support services for family caregivers. That would include such things as paying visiting health care professionals to perform some tasks such as helping with feeding tubes, catheters or administering medications.

It would also mean providing some relief care so that family members can take a break from their responsibilities, even if only for a few hours. What drags Utah down in the AARP ratings is that 43 percent of those caring for relatives feel stressed, overwhelmed and alone.

Even the most caring and affectionate spouse, child or parent cannot be expected to always be up to the financial and emotional strain of caring for elderly or disabled relatives. They need relief, training and the best information available.

Those who care for their own are not just helping their families. They are helping all of us. We should return the favor.






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