I was a family caregiver for my mother and my mother-in-law in the final years of their lives. I believe that family caregivers should get paid.

Caregiving requires a lot of time and energy and in-depth support. My family and I were lucky to have access to the resources available to us at the time, but people in more rural parts of Maine may not have access to services we had. They may be doing many more hours of hands-on care.

Rep. Kristen Cloutier’s L.D. 296, An Act To Provide a Tax Credit for Family Caregivers, recognizes the value of caregivers and the important work they do. So many Mainers are providing hours of unpaid caregiving for an aging or disabled loved one every year.

When our mother developed dementia and moved to a group residence, my sister and I had to provide additional vigilance, care and support. The entry-level caregivers there were barely getting paid above minimum wage, and the quality of care and high staff turnover were big, big issues that are relevant today.

I urge Maine’s legislators to pass this bill. We need to make caregiving more equitable. The state of Maine has the oldest population. Care for the elderly cannot be overlooked. I’m concerned about the lack of training, support and wages for caregivers. Otherwise, who’s going to be around to care for us?

Martha Naber

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