Dozens of people, representing health and advocacy groups for the elderly, met Tuesday morning to hear how long-term care for a growing elderly population statewide may be addressed.
The state Senate’s Select Committee on Aging and Long-term Care, established in February, is assigned the task of addressing aging and health needs for California’s oldest while taking into consideration the differences in people’s ethnicities and how they age. The committee is chaired by Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge), who represents, among other areas, both Glendale and Burbank. Committee members include state Senators Ed Hernandez, Richard Roth, Lois Wolk and Tom Berryhill.
“We’re having a hearing to find out what we need,” Liu said during the meeting at the Glendale Public Library. “We’re looking at everything, like transportation, services and education.”
Currently, she said, California has the largest population of people aged 65 and older in the nation. That number is projected to double to more than eight million in 2030.
And with that growth comes more racial and ethnic diversities, according to a news release. The committee plans to take into account the Affordable Care Act’s rollout and California’s Coordinated Care Initiative, which looks to integrate federal and state services beginning in eight counties.
Despite making plans to care for more older adults, health and aging experts stressed the need for more individual care. Panelist Dr. Kate Wilber, of the Mary Pickford Foundation and a professor at USC, recalled a 67-year-old man with neurological problems. He feared becoming institutionalized, losing his independence.
“Efforts to develop a uniform assessment to make it person-centered… will be a good step forward to address some of the fragmentation,” Wilber said of the current aging and long-term care system.
Attending was Miriam Caiden, who teaches computer classes to older adults through the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Division of Adult and Career Education. She wondered how the committee’s plans could benefit the roughly 100 adults who take the class.
“Everyone agrees on keeping people out of (nursing) homes and being productive. So, how do we do that?” Caiden said. “I need to know what the committee’s priorities are, and the direction they’re taking.”
In 2006, the Assembly Committee on Aging and Long Term Care noted four areas for major reform including restructuring the system and streamlining data, so that information would follow the patient across programs.
Changes in all four areas have been minimal, a news release said.