More than 15,000 in well-heeled Santa Clara county seniors live in poverty, taking home less than about $900 a month. And one in four older adults – nearly 50,000 seniors – live “near poverty” – less than twice the federal poverty level. When factoring in the true costs of living in this expensive area, nearly half of the county’s older adults are considered impoverished. The Senior Peer Advocate program – or SPA – was spawned by the Santa Clara County’s Aging Services Collaborative of Santa Clara County in hopes of connecting seniors with essential services — in particular affordable housing and transportation.
aging with dignity
Older adults facing age discrimination or squeezed out by employers looking to cut costs are increasingly finding entrepreneurship a surprisingly realistic option in a rugged new economy.
Imagine taking a job without knowing how much you’ll be paid. Or having your car fixed without knowing the cost. That’s how state health insurers and our most vulnerable patients – the old, sick, and poor – feel about California’s latest plan to squeeze them into a new managed care program that may be woefully unprepared for a transition scheduled for the fall.
Falls are the number one cause of injury – and death – for seniors in California and across the nation. They are also the largest single contributor to nursing home admissions – a staggering financial burden for both families and governments who shoulder the high costs of assisted living. Yet a number of experts and programs around the state are helping California become a leader in fall prevention awareness and training. In a state whose over-65 population is expected to be more than 10 million by 2040 – nearly one in five citizens – this is welcome news.
The grim effects of smoking, drinking, and poor eating are commonly cited by doctors as appalling and expensive health scourges. Yet for aging Californians, an often hidden health plague can be just as deadly: loneliness. Social isolation and its common offspring – loneliness – became a political hot potato when California recently cut back on its adult day health care program, disqualifying 20% of the state’s older and disabled citizens from its attendance rolls. Families who depended on the centers for medical supervision and social interaction suddenly had to scramble to find new programs to care for these relatives.
At “meet the pharmacist” events, seniors get a chance to review their medications in a welcoming setting. The demand for such assistance – the event is free – is on the rise, organizers say.
More elders from minority groups are ending up in nursing homes in the Long Beach and Los Angeles areas, reflecting a national trend. And they aren’t there because it’s their preference, experts say, but because it’s a financial necessity.
Disabled people and seniors in the Salinas area may be hit by cuts to Medi-Cal and Medicare that threaten the funding for their in-home care. Reimbursements for providers are dropping as eligibility requirements are becoming more stringent. How will service providers, the disabled and seniors cope with the cuts?
On Skid Row, the downtown hub of the homeless population in Los Angeles, transients ask passersby for change, slump against concrete buildings, and mumble obscenities at bus stops. The Downtown Women’s Center’s beautiful new building, sitting in the middle of the mayhem, is a standout. The DWC’s Day Center serves hundreds of homeless women in its facilities every day and 71 lucky ones live in permanent residences, or efficiency apartments.
As the U.S. population ages in the coming decades, the need for some sort of insurance to cover long-term health care expenses – such as in-home support services – will also rise. With this in mind, Congress and the Obama Administration last year included in the controversial health care reform act a little-discussed provision to implement a government-run long-term health care insurance program known as CLASS in October 2012.