Wells woman honored with portrait for work that often goes unacknowledged

Wells woman honored with portrait for work that often goes unacknowledged

Over the weekend, a new portrait was installed at the Whitney Galleries in Wells. It isn’t of a historical figure or a famous individual, but of a Mainer named Amy Madge who took on a role that rarely garners much attention or praise. She provided care to her elderly mother.

The portrait is part of AARP’s national storytelling initiative I Heart Caregivers and Madge is one of 53 caregivers nationwide to be featured in a hand-painted portrait. She is among 40 million Americans who help older parents, spouses and other loved ones live independently at home.

“Caregiving is the hardest job I ever loved,” said Madge, who cared for her mother, Lorraine, for three years before she passed away. “My advice to caregivers is to ask for help, be good to you, and go to support meetings if you can.”

Madge is the author of three books, including Memories of My Parents, a tribute to her late parents and a memoir documenting her experiences caring for them.

According to the AARP Public Policy Institute’s report, Valuing the Invaluable, 178,000 family caregivers in Maine provide 165 million hours of unpaid care annually, with an economic value of $2.22 billion statewide.

“Most older adults who receive assistance at home rely exclusively on unpaid family caregivers for help,” said Lori Parham, AARP Maine State Director. “Mainers like Amy are not just performing acts of love; they’re significantly changing what their loved ones’ lives look like in terms of comfort and financial stability.”

Several recent or proposed legislative initiatives could make things better for Maine caregivers. On the state level, The CARE Act, sponsored by Representative Drew Gattine of Westbrook, went into effect on October 15th and supports family caregivers both when loved ones are admitted to a hospital and following their hospital discharge. Elements of the Keep ME Home initiative, championed by House Speaker Mark Eves, were also passed into law, including a bond for senior housing that passed at referendum in November.

On the federal level, the LIFEtime act was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate and would allow states like Maine to find and invest in new solutions for caring for seniors. You can learn more about the legislation on the most recent episode of the Beacon Podcast.

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