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New Resource Guide from WHCoA: Federal Resources for Caregivers

One of the most important and rewarding jobs a person could have is to be a caregiver. Yet, caregivers often feel alone and overwhelmed, especially those who take care of their parents, grandparents, spouses or siblings.

This is why the White House Conference on Aging has compiled a list of federal resources for caregivers from the following agencies:

  • Administration for Community Living (ACL)
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • HHS Office of Women’s Health (OWH)
  • HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
  • Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
  • Social Security Administration
  • U.S. Department of Vetarns Affairs (VA)

Check out this comprehensive list of resources here.

Connecting the Dots: Equal Pay, Caregiving and Paid Sick Leave

98 days. A little over 3 months. That is how many additional days it takes for women to earn the same as men in the previous year. For African American women and Latinas, it would take even longer.

National Equal Pay Day Graphic

One might wonder why in 2014 we continue to experience such a noticeable wage gap among genders. The answer is quite simple: women are not just workers. They are also primary caregivers. In fact, about two-thirds of Hispanic caregivers are Latinas.

Whenever a women needs to take time off to give birth or care for a sick child, an elderly loved one, or herself, her ability to remain employed, get promoted, and create a name for herself in her field is compromised, especially if her state doesn’t have paid sick leave laws.

This is particularly true among Hispanic women, who are often the heart of their households. In a cultural context, Latinas grow up being cared for by women, and grow to fulfill that role with younger generations of family members, whether they are children, nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, or grandchildren.

As we commemorate National Equal Pay Day, it is crucial that we work toward sound, common sense public policy solutions that will reduce, and eventually close, the gender wage gap, such as the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 377/S. 84).

We also need legislation that helps all working Americans successfully balance and maintain their work and home lives, such as:

  • Paid family and medical leave insurance modeled on successful state programs in California and New Jersey;
  • Expanded access to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for more workers for more reasons; and





Aging and Chronic Kidney Disease: Are You at Risk?

Today is World Kidney Day, and while we may not think about our kidneys very much, they are vital organs that we need to function properly especially as we age. This year WKD is focused on chronic kidney disease (CKD) and its impact on aging.

Why take care of our kidneys?

Our kidneys help us remove waste and excess fluids from our bodies through urine. Kidneys, however, also play other important roles, such as release the hormones that regular our blood pressure and produce vitamin D, which helps to strengthen and keep bones healthy.

If you suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure, it is even more important to take care of your kidneys because you face a higher risk of CKD:

Approximately 1 of 3 adults with diabetes and 1 of 5 adults with high blood pressure has CKD. Kidney disease also increases your chances of suffering from cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes.

For more information, check out this CDC fact sheet on CKD.

Who is at risk for kidney disease?

The problem with kidney disease is that its symptoms are not obvious, making early detection difficult. In fact, more than 10% of adults in the United States have CDK and are not aware of their condition.

Risk factors include:

–       Being Latino

–       Being over the age of 50

–       Suffering from high blood pressure

–       Having diabetes

–       Having a relative with chronic kidney disease

What can I do to prevent CKD and help my parent/grandparent take care of their kidneys?

Here are some kidney-pleasing tips:

–       Check your blood pressure routinely. Normal blood pressure is at or below 120/80. Click here to learn more.

–       Schedule routine checks up that include urine and blood tests. (High levels of protein could indicate kidney disease. Also, your blood creatinine levels along with other factors, such as age, race, and gender will determine your glomerular filtration rate or GFR. GFR indicates how much kidney function you have.)

–       Make sure you are hydrated throughout the day, and drink water. (Experts tend to recommend drinking six to eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid every day. This could be water, tea, or juice. Remember that certain beverages have more sugar than others.)

–       Keep a healthy, low-sodium diet.

–       Participate in daily physical activity. Exercise is good for everyone!

–       If you or your loved is diabetic, consistently check blood sugar levels to ensure they are under control.

Watch this: The 8 Golden Rules and read this: CDC Kidney Health Tips.

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A Special Wish on the FMLA’s 21st Birthday

By Dr. Yanira Cruz

Today, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) turns 21 years old, and as a daughter, mother, caregiver, and worker I couldn’t be more thrilled. For more than two decades, the FMLA has provided workers the ability to maintain their jobs while they take care of their own health or that of a loved one, including myself. But we are the lucky ones. There are still many Americans who have to negotiate between their responsibilities as a worker and their duties within their households. Sadly, this negotiation is never a win-win situation.

Currently, 40% of workers do not have access to paid sick leave. This means that not every worker who needs time off to take care of a medical or health condition can’t afford it because they will receive partial or no pay during their leave of absence. A 2012 study from the Department of Labor showed that almost 5% of those without access to FMLA needed to take time off for medical or health reasons and couldn’t. Of those, nearly half said they couldn’t take the time off because they couldn’t afford it.

On the other hand, those who did take unpaid leave or partial paid leave were not better off. The DOL also reports that workers who took leave without FMLA had to seek alternative ways to make ends meet, such as borrowing money, using savings, putting off paying bills, limiting spending, or signing up for public assistance. And, if we look at low-income workers, the data and numbers are even more dismal.

Given that households are becoming increasingly multigenerational— particularly in the Latino community— we must continue the path our fellow advocates forged in 1993 with the passage of the FMLA. That is why as President and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), I have made paid sick leave and paid family and medical insurance a key legislative issue for the organization.

When workers are healthy, businesses are healthy. And when family members are healthy, communities thrive. Over the past couple of years, we have worked with closely with advocates in California and New Jersey to inform and educate Latinos, who tend to be working family caregivers, about the FMLA and paid sick leave so that they understand their rights as workers.

Today, on behalf of NHCOA, I renew our support for the FMLA and urge Congressional action on two pieces of legislation Congress is currently considering related to paid sick leave and family and medical insurance, the Healthy Families Act (paid sick days) and the FAMILY Act (paid family and medical leave insurance). Both pieces of legislation would help eliminate the choice people face between their health and family and their economic security.

I am also making a wish in honor of the FMLA’s 21st birthday. I wish for swift, bipartisan action on the Healthy Families Act and the FAMILY Act this year because being a good worker should not come at the expense of caring for one’s family and health.

Wish the FMLA a happy 21st birthday by tweeting this wish:

Let’s build on the success of the #FMLA and support workers by passing the #FAMILYAct and #HealthyFamilyAct this year. #FMLA21

This is part of the Family Values at Work blog carnival on the FMLA anniversary—read all the posts there

Advocating for Paid Family Leave in Miami

This summer, NHCOA traveled the country to listen to the needs and perspectives of the people that it serves.  These Promoting Communities of Success Regional Meetings took the organization to Dallas, Miami, and Los Angeles.  The older adults that NHCOA met in Miami were eager to improve their neighborhoods and become more civically engaged.

Hispanic older adults face a wide variety of challenges to achieving economic security.  In NHCOA’s Miami community forum, they cited high rates of mortgage foreclosures, increasing prices, and stagnating wages.  One policy to improve economic security for Hispanic families in Miami that NHCOA advocates for is the enactment of a law to provide paid family leave. Although the ability to take paid time off of work to recover from an illness may be taken for granted by some, a large number of workers do not have this luxury. Making matters worse, those most likely to lack leaves that pay are low wage workers that are not able to save money for time away from work.

Leaves that pay, the ability to take time off of work while sick, would keep working people from having to choose between caring for their health and attending work while sick and possibly making the illness worse. Miami is also home to a large number of Hispanic older adults, and a paid leave policy would also allow adult children to take time off to care for their parents. As health care costs continue to increase, policies that help prevent minor illnesses from turning into serious complications are more important than ever. Overall, paid family leave policies are good for the economy because they help keep workers employed and can help prevent minor illnesses from turning into serious health issues.

As the need for leaves that pay grows, Miami joins other places like New York City, Philadelphia, and Denver that are attempting to pass such policies.  San Francisco has had a paid sick leave policy since 2007, and it has been a success for workers, employers, and the local economy.  NHCOA calls on Miami and other cities to follow this example.

Making Paid Family Leave a Reality for New York

Paid family leave is a law that would enable workers to take time off to recover from an illness or to care for a family member. NHCOA supports this effort to help New York’s workers and we’re eager to mobilize the Hispanic community to make the final push to bring leaves that pay to the largest city in the country.

A paid leave law for New York City would greatly impact the Hispanic community. Hispanic homes are often intergenerational. A working adult might need to take time off to care for a sick parent or child and shouldn’t have to worry about job security during these times.

Did you know that Hispanics earn less on average than the general population? Workers in lower-income jobs are less likely to have leaves that pay. NHCOA is working to engage this community in supporting paid leave policies by connecting them with advocates that are dedicated to enacting laws so no one has to choose between their jobs and their family.

If the New York law passes, it would allow workers at businesses that have more than five employees to earn one hour of paid leave for every thirty hours worked. Each year, workers could earn up to five paid sick days each year. Eighty-three percent of New Yorkers favor leaves that pay and NHCOA calls on New York’s City Council and Mayor Bloomberg to join the majority of their constituents and support workers by passing this law.