Wilmington, DE – AARP recognizes the unpaid family caregivers who help their loved ones remain in their own homes and communities. There are more than 120,000 in Delaware – who help older parents, spouses, and other loved ones live independently at home, where they want to be. The unpaid care they provide – managing medications, cooking meals, driving to appointments, performing complex medical tasks and more – is valued at about $1.58 billion in Delaware alone.
Carol Barnett from Wilmington is one of these unsung heroes. In addition to her work as an administrator for Delaware’s Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities, she is a caregiver for her brother, Steve. Carol has also become a resource for other Caregivers in Delaware.
Carol often says, “Every day is an adventure.”
AARP Delaware recognized Carol with a “Portrait of Care,” an artist’s painting of her and her brother. Randomly selected through AARP’s storytelling initiative, I Heart Caregivers (aarp.org/iheartcaregivers), she is one of 53 family caregivers from every state, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who receive a hand-painted portrait. Thousands have shared their stories on the site.
AARP Executive Council member John Walsh presented the portrait to Carol at Delaware’s December Health Care Commission meeting. John is a longtime advocate for healthcare policy in the First State.
“We want to celebrate family caregivers, spotlight their experiences of hope, love, dedication and perseverance, and elevate their stories,” said Walsh. “This is especially important as we work to support family caregivers through public policy, education, outreach and more.”
AARP Delaware is working to pass the CARE Act during the 2016 legislative session. The CARE Act would provide recognition for caregivers, and better instructions when moving loved ones from hospitals to homes.
Carol cares for her younger brother Steve, who has severe cerebral palsy. Steve and Carol’s father died when Steve was 10 and their mother passed away when Steve was 17. Carol took over his care from that point on. In 2002, Carol decided they should move in together, and they did. “There are pros and cons to this living arrangement but the pros outweigh the cons, for sure. I am glad we made this decision many years ago and hope to continue it for a long time to come.”
She also noted that it has been rewarding to make it possible for Steve to remain at home, where he can enjoy a high quality of life. Thank you Carol, for your dedication as a caregiver in Delaware.