Choice in Aging – Where Senior Age in Place with Dignity
Speaker: Debbie Toth, CEO of Choice in Aging | Choice@ChoiceInAging.org | 925-682-6330
*Important Phone Number in California: 800-510-2020 to get information and assistance in your area.
Based on the US Census numbers, the California senior population ages 60 and older is fast growing, from nearly 6,136,000 (16% of the total population) in 2010 to a projected 10,762,000 (25%) in 2030 and 13,640,000 (30%) in 2060. Similar senior population growth is also happening across the country. There have been little or no government policies or master plans in place to address the fastest growing age group until recently. In California, the Master Plan for Aging was launched in 2020. Visit https://mpa.aging.ca.gov/ for details of the Master Plan for Aging, its history and the Five Bold Goals.
The greatest myth that seniors believe in is that Medicare will take care of their long-term care health needs when they reach the age of 65.
Medicare is only a health insurance program. Even after you procure the supplemental plans, Medicare still does not cover the following: Private Home Care, Private Care Management and Adult Day Health Care programs. It only covers acute short-term health needs. Skilled Nursing Facility coverage is only up to 60 days.
Medi-Cal is the equivalent of the national Medicaid which is for low-income individuals. The income requirements for Medi-Cal are currently 138% of the Medicaid income requirements for the rest of the country which are at $19,392 per individual and up to $39,900 for a family of four. Please check with Medi-Cal for details.
Medi-Cal covers the following services: In-Home Support Services (IHSS), unlimited Skilled Nursing Facility, Complex Case Management, Community Based Adult Services and Transitions out of Skilled Nursing Facilities. The primary issue is that the system is biased toward institutional care, so people are likely to get placed in skilled facilities before they need that level of care.
COVID exposed many known problems of skilled nursing facilities. Residents in the care facilities do not get the attention and care that they need and deserve. A history of lack of oversight and enforcement of regulations has led to poor care and in extreme cases, harm and untimely death.
The Benefits of Aging in Place
Many seniors prefer to age in place, i.e. at their own home where their social support systems are in place and that they feel connected instead of isolated. Seniors who get transferred out from years of institutionalized care and reintegrated back into the community generally feel better about themselves and, subsequently, regain their dignity. As a result, their mental health also improves.
There are cost considerations for seniors to age in place and stay vibrant. Over the top, these considerations include housing, home modifications, healthcare expenses, prescription drug costs, long-term care services, in-home care services, meals and groceries, transportation, legal and financial planning costs, etc. More active seniors may also consider the costs of memberships and classes to keep active. Considerations should also be given to assistive technology, e.g. safety devices, medical alert systems and home monitoring.
Programs at Choice in Aging
For qualified individuals, Choice in Aging provides support for seniors who decide to age in place. Its programs include Adult Day Health Care, California Community Transitions, Caregiver Support, Intergenerational Montessori Preschool, Multipurpose Senior Services Program, as well as Prevention and Early Access for Seniors.
Seniors’ needs cannot be dismissed anymore. They worked hard to build a country that we can enjoy. Now that they are older, their needs should be front and center in policy makers’ minds. We need to pay attention to the policies being discussed and be a part of the discussion.