Fifty-eight year old Ricky Strickland and his family manage all the day to day needs for his wife who has Alzheimer's disease. As a retired pharmacist, he knows how to access information to help with her care. Strickland says many people dealing with the disease don't know where to turn. He believes the Caregivers Act will help because it requires that hospital staff provide them with the information they need to take care of the patient after they're discharged.
"When they don't do the investigation or are not able to do it, or don't know to do it, or don't know where to go for those resources, the Care Act itself does help," said Strickland.
Ronda Gooden is with AARP Mississippi, which advocated for the law. She says hospitals have not consistently provided patient care information.
"We've had people tell us they've gone home without really knowing what they needed to do," said Gooden.
The law which took effect July first, gives patients the right to designate someone to act as a liaison with medical staff to ensure all questions are answered. It also requires hospitals notify caregivers when a patient is transferred or discharged. Gooden says besides helping caregivers, it should reduce unnecessary trips to the hospital.
"In 2013, 48 hospitals, that's 73 percent of all hospitals in Mississippi, were penalized for excessive readmissions," said Gooden.
AARP Mississippi says, the unpaid care provided by families and friends is valued at 5.2 million dollars annually.