More caregivers in Pennsylvania will soon qualify for financial aid from the state.
A law taking effect in March will allow non-family members and caregivers who do not live with recipients of their care to be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses associated with their service.
Since 1990, under the Family Caregiver Support Act, caregivers who were related to and lived with an elderly charge or someone with dementia could qualify for reimbursement if they met income qualifications.
Legislation signed by Gov. Tom Corbett last month changes the name of the act to the Pennsylvania Caregiver Support Act and expands the definition of “caregiver.”
Kathy Cubit, head of advocacy for the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly, said the change will allow more caregivers to access unused state funds.
“Back in 1990, it was primarily family caregivers who were providing the bulk of care,” Cubit said. “But now, as times change, you do have neighbors and close friends who are really also taking on this role.”
The law also increases the maximum monthly reimbursement from $200 to $500 for those who meet the income qualifications.
The money can be used to reimburse caregivers for items such as adult diapers, home modifications or respite care.
Bob Marino, co-chair of the statewide coalition of Alzheimer’s associations, said his organization has been lobbying for the change for years.
“It is always about the caregiver from our point of view,” Marino said. “We know that seven out of 10 of our afflicted members are being cared for at home. And that is a significant facet in how we approach everything we do.”
According to Cubit, about $12 million in state lottery funds is dedicated to the program each year.