Beginning this year-2020, there will be three presidential elections (2020, 2024 and 2028) which will determine the fate of our country as we enter 2030. Nationally, 2030 is set to be a tipping point when there will be more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 18.
Now is the time to take action. We need our elected officials to support programs in our community that will facilitate our independence as we cruise into this new decade. Now is the time to lift our collective voice to let our elected officials know we don’t want them to wait on issues that are going to impact our lives. We want to age in our community. Going into a long-term care facility isn’t something we are financially prepared for, and not something the government can afford to pay for either.
It’s time to demand the transportation infrastructure be expanded to serve our changing needs as we age. Yes, many states, including Rhode Island, provide transportation to medical appointments for seniors and Medicaid recipients. But life is more than just doctors’ appointments! Transportation to grocery stores, our religious communities and volunteer activities also improve our quality of life.
It’s time to demand that our Senior Centers are fully funded based on the number of eligible individuals in the community. Senior Centers provide a wealth of resources for older adults. Many are congregant meal sites for community members providing an opportunity to share a meal with friends and neighbors. Some Senior Centers, such as the Portsmouth Senior Center, organize major trips like a Caribbean cruise or a trip to Las Vegas. Research has shown that individuals who participate in programs at Senior Centers show an improvement in their physical, social, spiritual, mental, emotional and financial well-being.
It’s time to demand building code and housing regulations be updated to facilitate home modifications and shared living among multiple generations. Programs like the Rhode Island Livable Home Modification grant enables qualified individuals to receive up to $5,000 back on retrofitting a home that enable older adults and those with disabilities to remain independent at home.
According to a recent AARP study, there are over 136,000 family caregivers in Rhode Island. They provide over 114 million hours of unpaid care valued at an estimated $1.8 billion in economic value. The Families and Work Institute found that two-thirds of caregivers are still working. It’s time to demand an expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act to include paid time off for working caregivers.
It’s time to demand more funding (and awareness) for PACE, the Program for All-inclusive Care for the Elderly. The PACE program provides care in the home, the community and at PACE Centers. Transportation is provided to PACE programs. PACE can provide up to a nursing home level of care in the community, enabling individuals to remain in the community longer. Participants who require a mechanical device in order to stand, or be repositioned in a chair, are eligible to attend PACE programs.
It’s a new year and new decade-ripe with opportunity for positive change! We have 10 short years to build and expand the resources we want, and need, to age independently in our community. It is time for our collective voice to rise and demand action of our representatives.
Happy New Year 2020!