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Crisis Looms for Ohio’s Older Adults

Stakeholder Group Seeks to Curtail Harm with Policy Change, Discussion



Crisis Looms for Ohio’s Older Adults

Stakeholder Group Seeks to Curtail Harm with Policy Change, Discussion

Columbus, Ohio—June 3, 2016—Yesterday, a group of lawmakers, researchers, experts in aging, and other stakeholders met in Columbus, Ohio for the first of a three-part conversation on the viability of Ohio’s system of financing and providing care for Ohioans as they enter their golden years.

The initiative is part of a nationwide push by LeadingAge on the heels of their seminal “Pathways” reports, released in 2013 and 2015, which detailed the crisis facing America, where the average person over 65 has saved only $156,000 in financial assets and home equity, while the average person experiencing a high need for long-term services and supports will rack up $138,000 in healthcare-related expenses, with one in seven incurring over $250,000 of healthcare-related expenses. The reports identify seven pathways for reform, with actuarial projections for each.

“It was a no-brainer for us,” says Kathryn Brod, President and CEO of LeadingAge Ohio, which together with the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging (o4a) is co-convening this conversation. “We have the data. We know what high-quality long term care costs, and we have the projections, both for individual savings and public funding. And it doesn’t add up.”

According to the Pathways report, seventeen percent of working adults care for a family member or friend, with this care valued at $470 billion per year. In the coming years, the US will see the pool of informal caregivers upon which it relies shrink, from 7.2 potential caregivers per person in need, down to 2.9 potential caregivers per person in need in 2050. Being a woman, of low income, unmarried and with fair or poor health increased the likelihood of a person needing “long duration” care of five or more years.

Larke Recchie of o4a said, “Someone needs to be shining the spotlight on this issue now, when we still have time to do something about it.” Brod and Recchie hope that these three work sessions will elevate the issue in the minds of key decisionmakers and spur concrete policy changes.

Another expected outcome will be a toolkit which local providers, employers and stakeholders may use in their local communities to advocate for change. “This is everyone’s problem,” said Mark Ricketts, President and CEO of National Church Residences. “Whether it’s schools that are seeing state funding diminish because Medicaid is taking a bigger and bigger share of the budget, or employers who are seeing their workers’ productivity lag because of the competing demands of caring for parents at home, the issues affecting seniors impact all of us. This is everyone’s problem.”

The second and third work sessions is scheduled for July 29 and August 30, respectively.

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Our national partner, LeadingAge, is an association of 6,000 not-for-profit organizations dedicated to expanding the world of possibilities for aging. Together, we advance policies, promote practices and conduct research that support, enable and empower people to live fully as they age.