I’m the principal caregiver for three elderly relatives: my mother, stepfather and aunt. I’ve had to quit my regular job to help them. That’s why I’m grateful there’s an initiative on this fall’s ballot, Question 1, that would offer some relief to Mainers in my family’s situation.

The Universal Home Care initiative would see to it that all Maine families, regardless of their income, can have professionals come into the home to care for elderly or disabled relatives. It would be paid for by a small tax on individual incomes above $128,400. 

Caregiving pressure on family members can be extreme. I have siblings, but they don’t live close to us, so most of the responsibility falls on me. My mom has had bouts of cancer and my stepdad has been in and out of care facilities.

I’ve worked in nursing homes and know if they’re run right, they can be a good option for many folks. But I’ve had bad experiences with nursing-home care my relatives have received recently. Most people — my three relatives included — would rather stay in their home, anyway, and besides that, to qualify for MaineCare, you have to use up all your savings first.

Question 1 will also improve the quality of in-home care by raising the wages of caregivers and promoting better training.

My stepdad is a military veteran and my mom and aunt have worked hard their whole lives. Now that they need help, all three deserve assistance in their own home provided by professional caregivers. If Maine voters pass Question 1 this November, they and all the other Mainers who need it will finally be able to get it.

John Bell

Westbrook, ME

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