In recent years, growing focus has been placed on providing necessary care for the nation’s senior community. Demographic changes and the aging of the Baby Boomer generation means that in coming decades more individuals will be in need of support services than ever before. How will we provide those services? Who will pay for it? What can be done to ensure quality care?
To help answer these and other questions at a national level, recent legislation passed by Congress and championed by President Obama called for the creation of a Long-Term Care Commission. The group was a diverse one, made up of fifteen representatives like nursing home owners, senior resident advocates, caregiver union leaders, and more. As discussed in a recent press release, the group was tasked with “developing recommendations for the establishment, implementation, and financing of a comprehensive, coordinated, and high-quality system that ensures the availability of long-term services and supports for individuals who depend on this system to live full and healthy lives.”
Last week the Commission officially submitted its final report. The document (view it online here) provides an overview of the issues at play and suggestions about ways to tackle the challenges ahead. Thus far, most observers have provided somewhat cautious assessments of the document, noting that it may not do enough to inspire a national dialogue on the subject.
However, those who followed the formation of the group conceded that with only 6 months to work and a relatively small budget, it is commendable that the entity was able to produce a report at all. Similar federal “blue ribbon panel” projects are given more time and latitude.
Most criticism of the report thus far is that it trods on ground already covered. For example, there was much focus on the value of family caregivers to provide necessary support for seniors. Those taking a broad view of the problem often point out that there simply is not enough current space in assisted living facilities and other senior housing locations to accommodate the looming need. On top of that, many seniors prefer to “age in place” anyway, in no small part because of the prevalence of nursing home neglect and abuse. As such, emphasis on home care by relatives is key. Developing support and assistance for these at-home care providers should be on the agenda of all policymaking bodies.
Commenting on the report, the nation’s leading senior citizen’s advocacy group the AARP explained, ” “These recommendations are an important step, but only one step of a larger dialogue. AARP believes that the Commission’s full report will illustrate the need for a continued conversation and action to address long-term care in our country.”
While far from a silver bullet, this report will hopefully be read by many, pushing the issue of senior care onto many more agendas. The attorneys at our firm know well the poor care already provided to many elder community members. One can only hope that large-scale change will be made to ensure better care in the future, particularly when more and more individuals will be in need of it.
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