Along with being a full time physical therapist, my wife Deneen spent most of 2018 running back and forth to Somerdale, where she along with her sisters and brother helped care for her parents who are approaching 80. Part of that care ended in sorrow as her mother Darlene passed away on December 26th at age 77 of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease aka COPD. Luckily she got to spend her last days with family. Now, New Jersey is creating a task force to try to find ways to compensate family caregivers, Here's my idea:

Why not a tax break? How about we let these people who are spending their time and money, The average caregiver spends more than $7,000 out of their own pocket to help care for their loved ones. Why not deduct that money from either their property tax or income taxes? I say either or, because there are two ways you can do it. If the senior being cared for owns a house, why not let them deduct a level of compensation for those family member who care for them from their property taxes. How much can be decided on a case by case basis by the state. If they do not own a home, then the individual income taxes can be used for deduction. Keep in mind that these deductions would be temporary and it would be much cheaper and more comfortable to keep the care in the family rather hire out strangers who will make your loved ones final days more uncomfortable than they need to be.

There are those who would say, 'but where are we going to get the lost money from?' Well how about the millions we're taking in from sports betting, or when marijuana becomes legalized? I'm sure if we look hard enough we will find the money. I'm also sure that if they had to, they wouldn't have to look that hard.

There are programs that can be applied for in New Jersey, but in some cases they take so long to qualify for that by the time they get them it may be too late.

Crystal McDonald, associate advocacy director at AARP New Jersey, said our population is expected to double for people aged 65+ in the next 30 years. The number of people who can financially, physically and emotionally be able to be family caregivers is on the decline. Tax deductions for family members would be great step towards solving this problem.

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