I just finished attending the American Society on Aging’s Generations: Aging Network in Today’s Economy Webinar with presenters Mike Burgess and Bob Blancato. (See biographical information at the end of this post.)
I usually tweet live during such programs and today, have included the [edited] text of those tweets here.
Bob Blancato presenting
The costs of aging are rising…but then again, so are the numbers of people over the age of sixty-five. The deficit and budget crisis only magnifies the problem.
Today, 3.7 million seniors (65+) are living in poverty. Women are twice as likely to live in poverty with older women of color being an even higher percentage.
In 2011 Congress will reconsider the Older Americans Act funding.
Consider that we’ve experienced a near 50% increase in the 60 and over population and a whopping 100% increase in the over 85 population since 1980 with only a doubling of funding for the Older Americans Act [Editor’s remark: not accounting for a depreciated dollar in this time).
A survey of states shows a 5.4% reduction in general funds during fiscal 2010.
Report no longer available: Economic Crisis and Impact on State Aging Programs .
For example, most states report an increasing need for Home delivered meals despite funding cuts. [Editor’s note: A life-saver for my late father before we moved him into our home.]
However, communities are advocating for themselves and creating innovative programs such as Oklahoma’s team of volunteers who donate food and money.
The National Alliance for Caregiving produced a report in Spring of 2009: Economic Downturn and Its Impact on Family Caregiving.
Mike Burgess presenting
We must look at the future of Medicare and Social Security. Forty-three percent of Social Security recipients say they would not be able to survive without these benefits.
To address the impact of our aging population and future poverty levels, the Census Bureau is developing a Supplemental Poverty Measure to be released in 2011.
With the aging boomer population we are witnessing increasing instances of innovations in aging:
- Nutrition programs–e.g., Oklahoma’s, mention above.
- Livable community options—e.g., Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities or Community Innovations for Aging in Place.
- Meaningful volunteer opportunities through The Aging Network, Senior Corps, Serve America Act For example, New York state is looking at how retirees can run programs and even offer training such as in falls prevention or proper nutrition.
Over the past forty years the health care field has done much to improve the quality of care through screenings and education. Back then only 27% of males were lived to the age of 85. Today, that number has increased to over 40%.
Government programs have made a big difference in our longevity and quality of life. We can’t let the current budget crisis turn the clock backward.
Positive aspects of President Obama’s signing of the legislation for Healthcare Reform:
- ADRCs have received a new five-year extension allowing Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Centers to expand and grow.
- The CLASS ACT (Community Living Assistance Services and Support). Two additional points were made about this: 5-year vesting for eligibility and the Act may allow younger people to put money aside through payroll deductions.
- Closure of the donut hole
- Universal Health Care
Positive trends continue with the Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) increasingly focusing on consumer-directed care, where consumers play a greater role in choosing the kinds of care they wish to receive.
Despite the budget crisis, eight states have found ways to fund in-home-care services—e.g., with special local property taxes.
Project 2020: Building on the Promise of Home and Community-based services rather than institutional or acute care services.
Applying these innovative services will not only be better for care recipients but will also save government dollars going forward.
Mike said we can have our say in the future of how older Americans are cared for. The Older Americans Act (OAA) Reauthorization program is soliciting input.
Mike closed with a point about the importance of an accurate count in the US Census [Edit note: only 10 questions–shortest in history]
The presentation opened for Questions and Answers.
What will be the biggest challenges as Boomers age?
MB: Avoiding the ideological rhetoric of privatizing to survive. Imagine if we did invest social security dollars in the stock market. We still have not recovered. Also, we must address the issue of to what extent will we need to raise the cap on the wealthy for paying into social security? Right now the cap is set a $106,000 above which wages are earned without paying into Social Security.
How long will it take for states to return to profitability?
BB: It is difficult to predict how long it will take return states to the black. The states with more diversified economies will recover fastest.
How can we reach younger people who currently don’t show interest in aging issues?
Foster intergenerational efforts to get youth interested. Also both presenters found that when young people’s family members are dealing with issues of aging, they too become interested and involved.
Webinar Notes by Brenda Avadian, MA
BIO INFO taken from ASA’s Webinar Announcement
Mike Burgess has served since 2007 as the Director of the New York State Office for the Aging where he oversees the administration of federal and state funded programs designed to assist the more than 3.2 million elderly residents in the state, as well as programs that assist family members and others involved with helping elderly residents that are in need of greater levels of assistance. Mike has had a long career as an advocate for senior issues, prior to his appointment at NYSOFA he served in a leadership role in several advocacy organizations since 1979.
Bob Blancato is President of Matz, Blancato, & Associates, a full-service firm integrating strategic consulting, government affairs, advocacy services and association and coalition management. Bob is the National Coordinator of the Elder Justice Coalition and currently serves as the Executive Director of NANASP, the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs