Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Older Americans Act struggling to provide funding for aging residents to remain at home

The Older Americans Act—now in its 50th year—is struggling to provide enough funding for the growing population of older Americans, especially in rural areas, Rita Beamish reports for Stateline. "That’s left states and communities struggling to provide the in-home support, meals, case management and other nonmedical services that help seniors avoid more costly nursing home care and enrolling in taxpayer-funded Medicaid." (Associated Press photo: Citrus County Resource Center in Lecanto, Fla.)

"Area Agencies on Aging, the local organizations created to deliver services particularly to low-income, minority and rural seniors, are seeing their waiting lists grow," Beamish writes. "They also are scrimping on home services, delivering fewer meals, providing fewer places for group meals and offering fewer social and recreational programs."

A survey by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging found that "nearly two-thirds of 391 local aging agencies reported that their Older Americans Act dollars—which provide 40 percent of the funding for the average agency—had decreased since 2011," Beamish writes. The organization said money from states was mostly either down or flat. Sandy Markwood, the organization's chief executive officer, told Beamish, "It will not meet the needs of the current population of older adults and certainly won’t meet the needs of the generation of older adults to come."

One of the biggest problems is that the people most affected by the lack of funding are typically not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid services, said Joseph L. Ruby, president and CEO of the Akron Canton Area Agency on Aging in Ohio, Beamish writes. "Without those services, people who could live independently with some assistance in bathing, dressing, light cleaning and meals, will decline and face premature admission to nursing homes." (Read more)

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