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Supporting Seniors, Family Caregivers: Where Does Your State Rank?

Rank-PromoMy sister always says, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  I was reminded of this adage when I heard Loren Colman, Minnesota assistant commissioner of continuing care, explain how Minnesota is consistently ranked at the top of the nation when it comes to providing support for seniors and their family caregivers. “We planned,” he said.  Indeed, Minnesota developed a plan decades ago to transform the way the state would deliver long-term care services to older residents in their homes and communities, instead of costly nursing homes.

In Raising Expectations 2014: A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers, by AARP, Minnesota, again, comes in first. This state Scorecard, an update to the first scorecard from 2011, ranks each state overall and within 26 performance indicators along five key dimensions:

What makes a state No. 1?

Not only did Minnesota plan, but the state committed to implement that plan, despite episodic changes in political control of the governor’s office and state legislature. Minnesota’s plan was deeply rooted in the values of providing quality care and delivering it in the way people want to be served. And Minnesota continues to adhere to these values, while innovating and refining their approach along the way to build a better Minnesota. Still, even though Minnesota ranks No. 1 in the nation for its support of seniors and their family caregivers, the state still has room to improve – as all states do.

Plan, Plan, Plan

The power of planning and executing shouldn’t be underestimated. That’s why I am particularly excited to see that Delaware, Mississippi, Hawaii, Kentucky, New Mexico and South Carolina have created legislative task forces on family caregiving, following advocacy by AARP state offices to do so. The task forces will assess the programs and policies in place to support family caregivers and to identify the priority needs for the future. Here are a few highlights:



As these task forces convene in the coming months, we urge them to chart a road map for action, because the pace of change in states must accelerate if we are to meet the demands of the aging population, including family caregivers.

Where do other states rank and how are they working to improve?

Here are a few highlights:



Where does your state rank? Find out here: http://www.longtermscorecard.org/

For family caregivers, keep in mind: You’re not alone.