Grandparents’ Day this Sunday offers a time to celebrate their impact on our lives and consider how we can return the favor. We can honor our elders by ensuring they have the kind of support that allows them to live with dignity. I provided that support for my parents for eight years and personally understand the sacrifices and resources needed to provide quality care. We were fortunate to have the help of paid caregivers, who gave my parents special personal attention and for which we’ll always be grateful.
Together, family caregivers and professional care workers make it possible for elders to age at home and have fuller, healthier lives. However, people providing this support often struggle themselves. More than 1.2 million workers in North Carolina lack access to paid sick days to care for an aging family member. Home care is one of our fastest-growing occupations but offers some of the lowest wages.
There is hope in the form of proposals before the state legislature. The Healthy Families & Workplaces/Paid Sick Days Act would help families care for loved ones. The Caregiver Relief Act would fill in gaps in the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, extending the law to allow eligible employees to care for a sibling, grandparent, grandchild, step-parent or in-law.
As we celebrate our elders, we should also honor the people who keep them safe. Let’s give caregivers the support they need.
Rep. Yvonne Holley