Janice Ayres: Election year mudslinging is a waste of money | NevadaAppeal.com

Janice Ayres: Election year mudslinging is a waste of money

Janice Ayres
For the Nevada Appeal

If the early TV ads for president are any indication, it’s going to be a very long, ugly election year.

It will be fraught with charges and countercharges from both sides as to what someone did or didn’t do. God help the guy who stole a crayon in the first grade. When you listen to all this mudslinging, it becomes worse when you realize how many millions of dollars will go into its production and airing.

We have the Supreme Court to thank for that, making it possible with their passing of Citizens United, which gives unprecedented power to influence elections like never before. It gives billionaires and special-interest groups the opportunity to give millions of dollars to a candidate with no accountability. Super PACs are having a heyday. It would not be surprising if someone wrote a book on “How to Purchase a Presidency.” I was happy to learn that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is working to get this changed. Good luck to the senator because it is scandalous.

With all the cuts being proposed by Congress to diminish services to seniors, it is mind boggling to see billionaires pumping all this money into an election. Perhaps when the election is over and things settle down, more decisions will be made in Washington, D.C., based on the actual needs of seniors, as opposed to decisions that are made strictly for their political ramifications. Many senior programs are working hard to provide care to seniors and their families and have not made much headway in Congress.

I recently read that Joan Lunden, the longtime favorite on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” is now the spokeswoman for the Family Caregiver Alliance. That is good, because whenever a celebrity takes on a cause, it gets national attention and more people learn about the resources they need or the lack thereof. Lunden became involved when her 88-year-old mother, suffering from the onset of dementia, needed care. Finding the right kind can be difficult, as she found out.

Lunden is not the only one with this problem. Trying to create the best possible quality of life for an aging relative is “the new normal” for more than 43 million Americans who are caring for a senior, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. Now that baby boomers are aging, the issue of family caregiving is becoming much more commonplace. So with about 10,000 baby boomers hitting age 65 every day, they are becoming their parents’ caregivers, but also are becoming persons needing care themselves. With people living longer than ever, this is the first generation that might care for its parents as long as it cared for its children.

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Many people don’t see themselves as caregivers but simply spouses, children or siblings doing what is expected and often give 24/7 care with no breaks, and thus become ill or die themselves. Caregivers need to acknowledge that they can’t keep up this schedule and should seek help before it reaches crisis mode. If cost is the problem, there are free respite care programs such as RSVP provides. They have trained and background checked respite care volunteers who give time off for caregivers to pursue some normal time. They can be reached at 775-687-4680, ext. 3, for more information.

A 2011 AARP Public Policy Institute study estimates the overall economic value of family caregiving at $450 billion, based on 42.1 million caregivers. If Congress can’t see the tremendous contribution this is to reducing the cost of long-term care, then shame on them. They should be adding funds to programs such as RSVP that are helping hundreds of families with respite care, not cutting them as they have been doing in the past. Lunden’s experiences in helping her mom have inspired her to share them in the book “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers.” She also tours the country giving talks on the subject of caregiving and has raised the awareness tremendously. Maybe RSVP can get her for a visit. Stay tuned!

• Janice Ayres is immediate past president of the Nevada Senior Corps Association.