Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Improve Services for Seniors Pennsylvania Seniors Don't Need Reports; They Need Action

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Improve Services for Seniors Pennsylvania Seniors Don't Need Reports; They Need Action

Article excerpt

As CEO of Leading Age PA, I often speak to groups across the commonwealth about senior care services. I make it a point to ask people to raise their hands if they have made plans, such as buying long-term care insurance or saving money, to cover the cost of these services. I often receive confused looks.

Outside of nursing homes, most people don't know what senior services are, how they can go about receiving them or how they'll pay for them. That's troubling when evidence shows more than 60 percent of Pennsylvanians will need these services at some point in their lives.

This illustrates a problem: Seniors erroneously believe that government programs will take care of them when they need services. It's especially a problem here in Pennsylvania, since we are one of the oldest states in the nation. Our over-85 population is increasing at 10 times the rate of the rest of the population, and the first baby boomers are rapidly approaching age 70.

As a result, our care system, rooted in the advent of Medicaid and Medicare nearly 50 years ago, forces families to place loved ones into inappropriate care settings because they cannot afford to pay the $4,000 to $9,000 a month it costs for the settings they really need, let alone prefer, such as assisted living or personal home care.

LeadingAge PA, an association of not-for-profit providers of senior services, is holding its first Senior Care Service Summit in locations across Pennsylvania this fall so that its members and seniors can discuss these issues directly with policy makers and state legislators. An upcoming summit in this area will be held Oct. 18 at the Longwood at Oakmont retirement community in Plum.

While a number of state associations represent specific service providers, such as nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and home health operations, LeadingAge PA knows the importance of balancing all of these services. The goal of the summit is to help all of us to envision a better future for the delivery and funding of senior services. For the past year, our directors have devoted themselves to this mission, and we look forward to sharing our findings during the summit gatherings. …

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