Frank Irigon: Why Family and Medical Leave is important for seniors

Chair Sells and members of the Committee: Thank you for your time today as I testify in support of House Bill 1457.

My name is Frank Irigon. I am here today as a senior citizen representing the Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action, an organization representing people across Washington state. I am also a retired social worker and very active in my community.

Today – and every day until the year 2030 – approximately 10,000 people in the U.S. will turn 65.

This means that our kids—my kids—now have the responsibility of caring for an elder in addition to their responsibilities to their own children and their jobs. In fact, nearly half of working people in their 40s and 50s today have a parent over age 65 and a child under 18 at home.

Family and medical leave insurance is part of the solution to a looming crisis in elder care.

As seniors, most of us want to age in our homes with dignity. We want our children with us through a health crisis. But we don’t want our children and grandchildren to suffer financially by having to take unpaid leave to care for us.

While it’s impossible to predict if a crisis will happen, paid family leave guarantees that workers will have at least some income stability when they must take leave from work to focus on caring for a family member.

This insurance program will also save the state money – because so many families are forced to turn to Medicaid and other public programs as a result of a health crisis.

The benefits of paid family and medical leave are not just about economics. Our families and our communities will be stronger. People of all ages have better health and higher quality of life when loved one are present and active in their care. For elders like me, overall health and lifespan are improved by engagement with family.

Please support family and medical leave insurance.

Thank you for your time.

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