Deep concerns about the current status and future of services for older adults were reinforced at the joint committee hearing of the newly formed Senate Select Committee on Aging and Long-term Care and the Assembly Committee on Aging and Long-term Care, held at the State Capitol, August 12. The highly anticipated session lasted more than two hours, with a standing-room-only crowd
Presenting authorities and committee members made a compelling case to strengthen California’s LTC system. Sooner than later. Research shows 7 out of 10 people 65 and older will have substantial needs for supportive care, a committee report noted.
Improvements must become a higher overall priority, participants agreed, and there must be increased financing, better coordinated services that are easier to navigate, greater access for rural areas, and more support for caregivers.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR
While the formation of the Senate Select Committee should fortify “seniors” as a special interest, this heightened status may potentially be counterintuitive in the bigger picture. Consider these crucial, public appeals from the joint committee report and presenters.
- Aging must be appreciated as a stage of life, not a social problem or disease.
- Respect and social inclusion is an essential component.
- To achieve the ideal system, we must raise awareness and build on the idea of shared risk.
- Data and information about the challenges exist, but it must be presented in such a way to make a compelling case for social media, news media and the public.
The focus on galvanizing public attitudes and actions makes absolute sense. However, designating (via committees) older adults as a “special interest group” — as them not us — may create an unintended consequence. It could actually reinforce age-segregation rather than encourage generativity, a society in which generations support one another.
AN “AGELESS” PERSPECTIVE
A vital role of the two committees should be to attempt to strategically integrate the needs of older adults into all applicable legislative policies. Demonstrate how aging is generally and integrally connected to every public system and service.
Access to public transportation, encore-career development programs, fraud and scam prevention, multigenerational housing, shared-site community centers, neighborhood health clinics and caregiver education are among many opportunities that would benefit everyone, especially older adults.