When life gives Jane Concato lemons, she makes lemon cakes.
“I took a class during rehab, and it was called ‘Community Integration: How to Get Back into Life and Live It in a Way You Did Before,’ " says Concato, a traumatic brain injury survivor.
Almost two decades ago, Concato fell down the stairs and suffered a traumatic brain injury, but every day since then, she’s been getting better.
“A person with a brain injury or really any catastrophic thing, they can't see their improvement," Concato said.
However, her husband Joe can see her improvement. They’ve been married almost 50 years, and for the last 20, Joe has been his wife’s full-time caregiver.
“Caregiving is a full-time job dealing with insurance companies, dealing with therapy, dealing with paying bills and everything else that needs to be done. All those daily tasks still need to be done on top of the caregiving responsibilities," says Joe Concato.
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara recently introduced legislation that would make life easier for caregivers like Joe. The bill will excuse full-time caregivers across New York State from jury service, something that could keep the caregiver occupied for days, weeks or even months.
“Well, when the caregiver finds out that they have to do jury duty, it would change their whole month. Of all the doctor's appointments, it would make life … very confusing, very irritating," Concato said.
The bill would exempt full-time caregivers of a person with a physical or mental condition that cannot care for themselves.
“These individuals are bonded. They know they have specific understanding of the individuals that are caring for. So, it's not really that easy to replace these individuals and just put someone in as a sub. In many cases, that substitute may not even be available, because there is a workforce shortage going on," said Santabarbara.
Jane says life for a caregiver is already busy and stressful, so she believes the legislation would not only ease the burden, but ensure caregivers are by their loved one’s side when they’re needed most.