OCTOBER 29, 2014

Long-term care for seniors is an emerging issue

Older middle-class Americans who can't afford help are the most vulnerable
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WASHINGTON, DC – Long-term care is poised to become an important issue in the U.S. as the nation's population grows older, according to Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens. 

"Each and every day, over the next two decades, 10,000 Americans will celebrate their 65th birthdays and as many as 70 percent of them, at one point as they grow older, will need some level of assistance with every day necessary chores.  Some of them will be able to use retirement funds for assisted living facilities.  Seven percent of them had the resources when they were younger to purchase expensive long-term care insurance.  But the great majority may need to rely on the kindness of friends and family to get by," Weber explained.

He noted that those older citizens who will be impacted the most by the lack of affordable assistance will be those in the middle class.  "The poor have Medicaid to help them; the wealthier can rely on personal finances and private insurance."

Medicare might be used to resolve the problem for those in the middle, he said, but Obamacare threatens to eliminate that option since it diverts $22 billion from that program's home healthcare option for seniors.  
"But the older generation is feisty, resilient and, most of all, independent.  They have no qualms about taking matters into their own hands by nagging their lawmakers to reverse the home healthcare cuts, a task that AMAC has set as a high priority.  They are also discovering new options for the near-term and long-term future."

For example, Weber said, the folks at Boston's Beacon Hill Village "did what resourceful older folk do when youngsters who were supposed to deal with a problem fail: they come up with their own solutions."

In 2001, a group of seniors living in the Beacon Hill section of town got together and found a way to take care of themselves in their old age.  They created "a member-driven organization for Boston residents 50 and over, that provides programs and services so members can lead vibrant, active and healthy lives, while living in their own homes and neighborhoods," as their Web site describes it.

Today there are more than 100 villages operating and in development across the country, thanks to the Village to Village Network sponsored by Beacon Hill Village and Capital Impact Partners, a financial institution focused on community development. 

The Network provides expertise and guidance for local organizations seeking to establish their own Villages utilizing volunteer and paid staff to provide "services such as transportation, health and wellness programs, home repairs, social and educational activities, and other day-to-day needs."  It allows seniors to remain independent in their own homes and neighborhoods and to have affordable access to the help they need.

Weber said the Boston Beacon Hill project "may have started a revolution in the way such services are provided in the future.  After all, the first major battle of the American Revolution took place in Boston in 1775.  And so, once again Bostonians appear to be in the front lines of the fight for independence in the 21st Century-independence for the nation's growing population of older Americans."

The Association of Mature American Citizens [http://www.amac.us] is a vibrant, vital and conservative alternative to those organizations, such as AARP, that dominate the choices for mature Americans who want a say in the future of the nation. 

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