A heartfelt thanks to Iowa caregivers

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

As the season of thanks is upon us and the hustle and bustle of the holidays draws near, I want to take time to recognize an important group of individuals who at times, may go unnoticed -- the family caregiver.

Every day, family caregivers take on the tremendous responsibility of supporting an aging parent, spouse, or special needs child. Though taking care of one's family may be an expected societal norm, it does not make caretaking easy or stress free.

Family caregivers in Iowa assist loved ones with a variety of needs, including maintaining the household, managing finances, overseeing medication, going to medical appointments, and more. In short, they play an invaluable role in ensuring their loved ones have access to the support they need, from the comfort of their home.

All of this of course is done while family caregivers might also take care of other family members, their household, and often, work full or part-time.

If you ask them, family caregivers would not trade their role for anything, but they would appreciate a bit of additional help and support.

That is why it is so important we honor National Family Caregivers Month this November, and take time to be grateful for the more than 317,000 Iowans, and 40 million people across the country, serving as family caregivers at any given time during the year.

Offering a bit of additional help and support is also why I have proposed the bipartisan Credit for Caring Act, which would provide up to a $3,000 non-refundable tax credit for working family caregivers supporting a loved one in need of long-term care.

This tax credit would be available for caregivers to alleviate some of the out-of-pocket financial expenses that they often take on. It could be used toward a number of expenses including, but not limited to -- assistive technology and home modifications, medication management, transportation costs, and lost wages for the caregiver during unpaid time off.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit with and hear from many incredible family caregivers at the 2016 Caregiver Wellness Day in Cedar Rapids. Their stories of selflessness remind us that to ensure that our families can remain in their homes, we must support the family caregiver, who helps make that to happen.

This holiday season, please join me in expressing our gratitude to family caregivers across Iowa and all around the country, for their unwavering commitment and dedication to their loved ones.