Lawmakers Look to Position Older Americans Act into a Greater Enlightenment Phase
In 2017, the Older Americans Act (OAA) served more than 700,000 caregivers; and provided seniors across the country with 358 million meals. These services hit only the tip of how the law has improved the lives of seniors. OAA is also a federal policy that invests back to help older individuals age in place or at home and out of nursing homes and hospitals through low-cost, community-based services.
On Wednesday, May 8th the Senate Aging Committee held a hearing to highlight the importance of the OAA led by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee in hopes to rally a bipartisan coalition for OAA’s reauthorization prior to it expiring on September 30.
Sen. Casey’s opening statement read, “The Older Americans Act reminds us who we are as a country. It represents our commitment to the generations who made us who we are today. And, it lifts up the seniors who need our help the most. This law serves more than 11 million Americans each year. … We also need to do more to ensure that Area Agencies on Aging are prepared to meet seniors where they are-in their homes and communities. And, they believe it is important that we invest in data collection to show how successful these services are at keeping seniors healthy and out of the hospital.”
Helping older Americans age in place, when possible in their homes, is one very important goal of a renewed OAA. This focus could combat the caregiver shortage crisis as well as reduce the alarming number of abuse and neglect incidences happening at certified nursing facilities each day in the U.S.
4 Benefits of Aging in Place
For the majority of seniors, living at home is a preference. Especially since long nursing home stays can quickly turn into an emotional, physical, stressful financial disaster for a family when in-home care may have been the most cost-effective option and the safest. While aging in place can’t always be possible, here are some benefits to it.
- Cost Savings
The average cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home in 2016 was $6,844 a month. That’s over $82,000 a year, more than the average household income in 2014 of just over $73,000 a year, according to the Census Bureau. Costs of nursing home facilities in Illinois typically range from $3,450 to $11,250 per month, with the median cost running about $62,050 per year reports the Administration on Aging.
- Comfortability Factors and Privacy
Privacy is likely not available for those who reside in nursing homes, sometimes because of state and federal laws, but it is also easily violated. Conduct of facility care staff is too many times questioned when it comes to privacy and protecting the dignity of residents as well. Other things many individuals take advantage of such as smells, bedding, using the restroom and being able to lock a door may decrease a person’s comfortability when aging in places other than their home.
- Battling Memory Loss
Although memory loss is something that does happen to many older Americans, living in a new environment, particularly an institutional environment, can worsen the progression of it. One study published by Berkeley found that seniors with “frequent” social activity contact saw a 70 percent reduction in cognitive decline when compared with more isolated individuals living in nursing homes.
- Self Determination
Aging at home allows seniors to be more independent and make their own daily decisions, perhaps at times with live-in or family caregiver help. But in some group living situations, there are restrictions on visitors, when to shower, lights out and even meal times.
Each Chicago nursing home lawyer at our firm appreciates that aging in place is just one of many considerations to long-term care and there are many other factors to play out regarding each family’s unique situation.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Is an Awful Reality
Nursing homes must follow care rules, are expected to uphold professional care standards and the abide by the law. If your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, contact the skilled legal team at Levin & Perconti to discuss the case.
Call us now at (312) 332-2872 or complete our online case evaluation form for a free consultation with one of our nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys.