Does your state support services for older Americans, family caregivers?

Family caregivers provide an estimated $450 billion in unpaid care annually, helping their older parents, spouses and others to live independently at home—and out of costly institutional care, often paid for by Medicaid. But now, in a number of states as governors and legislatures negotiate their state’s annual budgets, critical assistance on which family caregivers and their loved ones rely on is at risk. Proposed cuts to home care, adult day services, meals-on-wheels and more have real consequences for families. …

Help for Family Caregivers

While traveling to Erie, Pa., for a town meeting on family caregiving, I was reflecting on my family roots. A little more than 100 years ago, my Lithuanian grandparents immigrated to America and made Shenandoah, Pa., their first hometown. My grandfather worked in the coal mines and my grandmother, fluent in six languages, worked various jobs while raising five children – one of whom was my mom. My grandparents taught me about hard work and perseverance, and my parents taught …

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

My 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 …

States Start Shifting Focus to Help Seniors Live Independently, at Home

“We need to ‘spring’ your mother,” Pop, who loved prison movies, told me over the phone while asking me to come home that weekend. Mom had been in a rehabilitation center for two weeks following a bad fall and a hospital stay. Both she and Pop were ready for her to go home. My mom and pop, like most Americans, wanted to stay in their home and community as they aged. Pop became the primary family caregiver for Mom, and …

There’s No Place Like Home – But How Do You Define It?

How would you describe what “home” means to you? When do you feel most engaged in a “community”? If you struggle to answer those questions, imagine a federal agency trying to define what “home” and “community” mean for the purposes of important public benefits. That is essentially the task that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) set for itself several years ago as it began the long path to its recently released rule related to home- and community-based …

Home and Community-Based Services: The Right Place and the Right Time

As evidenced at a recent hearing of the federal Commission on Long-Term Care, broad support is building: It’s time to end Medicaid’s “institutional bias.” It’s not rational that Medicaid entitles eligible individuals to be placed in nursing homes, while limiting their ability to receive services at home. On average, the Medicaid program can serve about three older people or adults with physical disabilities with home- and community-based services (HCBS) for the cost of putting one in a nursing home. Moreover, …