Contact: Jim Flaherty

AARP Wisconsin

608-286-6308 or (cell) 608-698-0928

MADISON, WISCONSIN – Noreen Holmes of La Crosse knows all too well how fast the costs can add up for family caregivers.

Caregivers like Holmes put in long hours for little or no compensation, helping loved ones with daily tasks such as giving baths, dispensing medications, preparing meals, paying bills, and providing transportation to doctor’s appointments. Some even provide higher levels of care, such as wound treatment, dialysis support and feeding tube maintenance.

Every single day, more than half a million Wisconsinites and 40 million Americans take on these heroic challenges so that family members, relatives or friends can remain living independently as long as possible in their own homes and communities rather than being moved into costly long-term care institutions.

Holmes is a volunteer advocate for AARP Wisconsin, which will also testify today in favor of legislation that would create a $1,000 tax credit to help offset some of the personal costs caregivers incur while taking care of loved ones. The testimony will be given in favor of AB631/SB528 at a public hearing held by the Assembly Committee on Mental Health. AARP also supports AB629/SB518, which would create a uniform adult guardianship jurisdiction.

The tax credit bill, specifically, would create a nonrefundable individual income tax credit for certain expenses incurred by a family caregiver to assist a qualified family member, which AARP Wisconsin State Advocacy Director Helen Marks Dicks says is long overdue.

“Each year, Wisconsin’s 578,000 family caregivers provide about 538 million hours of care – worth an estimated $7 billion – to their parents, spouses, partners, and other adult loved ones,” Dicks said. “They provide this care while also keeping up with their own jobs, running their own households and trying to make ends meet.

“Caregivers do all of this while Wisconsinites are getting older, with thousands of Boomers retiring each day and fewer home health care workers available to take care of them. That’s why we at AARP believe that making small investments in caregivers right now will lead to big savings for Wisconsin and much better care for families down the road.

“Family caregiving impacts all of us at some point in our lives, and it’s high time we step up our game and do more to assist these heroes throughout Wisconsin. We hope state lawmakers will clearly understand that this caregiver tax credit is an important first step to providing this critical support,” Dicks said.

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