Alert
Close

How Does Your Brain Score? Take the Staying Sharp Brain Health Assessment

New Mexico State Representative Tomás Salazar

New Mexico State Rep. Tomas Salazar and family

New Mexico State Representative Tomas Salazar and family — Courtesy Salazar family

New Mexico State Rep. Tomás Salazar knows first hand the joys and challenges family caregivers face. He is one himself. However, as he worked to get House Joint Memorial 4 passed during the 2014 legislative session, he began to realize the widespread challenges family caregivers face.

Salazar is the second oldest of six siblings — five brothers and one sister — but only three of them live close to his mother, Dolores, who turned 93 on Aug. 15. Although his sister, Lucy, is the mother’s primary caregiver, Salazar, his brother David and their spouses also help out.

Up until two years ago, his mother insisted on staying at the family home at least during the day. But following a medical episode, the family knew someone needed to be with her full time.

"The one thing that is a joy and a pleasure, as a traditional Hispanic family from a rural area, is that we are very close. Our mom is important to us. Having a family matriarch encourages the extended family to share time together,” Salazar said. “There was never any question really that the family would look after her.”

New Mexico supports family caregivers

When AARP New Mexico State Director Gene Varela asked Salazar to sponsor House Joint Memorial 4, which establishes the New Mexico Family Caregivers Task Force and directs it to create a state plan for family caregivers by November 2015, Salazar eagerly accepted. He already knew some of the challenges family caregivers faced, but he had no idea the extent of the need until he began talking to more people about issues they face.

“After I started conferring with Gene (Varela) and others involved in caregiving situations and with other people actually doing caregiving, it became apparent that addressing this issue is critical to our state,” Salazar said.

Some caregivers were working while caring for a loved one. Others were tending, 24 hours a day, to loved ones with a severe illness or disability.

The more people he spoke with, the more need he saw.

“I was pleasantly surprised that the memorial received unanimous bipartisan support. It was refreshing, as a relatively new representative, to see my colleagues both in the House and the Senate get behind this memorial,” he said.

Salazar hopes the task force will:

  • Increase awareness of the issues that family caregivers face and the resources available to them
  • Identify policies or legislation to improve caregiver resources across the state and to improve coordination of and access to those resources
  • Let caregivers know they are not alone

“I’m very optimistic because of the quality of the individuals who have already stepped up to become members of the task force — that speaks volumes. I think they are up to the challenge of coming up with the very best possible solutions,” Salazar said.

“We are already trying to get some legislative action on caregiving together for the next session. The Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act would ask hospitals to place a designated caregiver in the patient’s file when admitted, notify that caregiver when the patient is being discharged and give that individual information to help care for the patient upon their release,” he said.

AARP recently named Salazar as a 2014 Capitol Caregiver, a bipartisan group of 46 state legislators and three governors from 19 states who were integral to the passage of key caregiving legislation in 2014. 

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

caregiving tools

Caregiving Locator Tool

Care Provider Tool

Find home health, assisted living, nursing home, hospice and adult day care near you. Go

I Heart Caregivers

Heart-ing family caregivers across the country.  Go

 

Search by State

 

Social Media

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

 

Member Benefits AT&T Wireless Cell Phone

Members save 10% on the monthly service charge of qualified AT&T wireless plans.

Member Benefit AARP Regal 2

Members pay $9.50 for Regal ePremiere Tickets purchased online.

Walgreens 1 discount membership aarp

Members earn points on select Walgreens-brand health and wellness products.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points