Portland, OR – Visiting the downtown Meals on Wheels People dining center, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley today announced the introduction of the Older Americans Community Access Revitalization and Education (CARE) Act in the Senate next week to help older Americans stay in their own homes and communities as they age.
Merkley’s bill would create a Community Care Initiative within the Older Americans Act to coordinate support services like meals, nursing visits, and transportation assistance so older Americans can continue to live in their homes and communities. Without these services, they often wind up needing expensive and impersonal hospital or institutional care.
“No one wants to move out of their own home and into a nursing home if they don’t have to,” said Merkley. “This bill will help ensure that more seniors can receive the services they need to maintain a high quality of life and continue living in the place they call home. This is an idea with potentially huge benefits for seniors, for adult children who are worried about the astronomical cost of long term care for their parents, and for taxpayers too.”
With roughly 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day, it is more important now than ever to ensure that America’s programs for seniors are working effectively. Better coordination among services would allow more of these retiring Baby Boomers to stay in their homes and communities as they age, with a higher quality of life and lower costs. Home- and community-based programs are usually far less expensive than institutional settings such as nursing homes.
Too often seniors only find out about the resources available to them, like chronic disease management, health promotion, legal assistance, and nutrition programs like Meals on Wheels after a health emergency or an expensive hospitalization. The Older Americans CARE Act would establish coordinated care systems that would work across service areas to get seniors the assistance they need from the start.
Year after year, when Congress sets funding for the Older Americans Act, critical senior programs are overlooked and underfunded. Merkley has consistently fought to improve investment and access to these programs.
Merkley has also long worked to protect the promises we make to seniors for their lifetimes of work, like Social Security and Medicare.