Many area residents visit our New York elder law attorneys because they seek to keep their preferred way of life as they age. Almost everyone will need some extra assistance with tasks as they grow older. Many options are available to provide that needed care without major disruptions in a senior’s life. However, those services come at a cost. At-home care and flexible forms of long-term living facilities are often out of reach for community members who have not conducted prior planning to account for those costs.
Elder care advocates have repeatedly emphasized that seniors report the most satisfaction with their quality of life when they are able to stay in their own home as they age. Moving into a nursing home is therefore a “last line of defense”–most other methods of senior living are preferable. Not surprisingly, at-home care services have grown in popularity in recent years. The National Association for Home and Hospice Care reports that about 12 million people receive home health care nationwide each day.
The benefits of this care led many states to create programs providing at-home services in an effort to keep seniors out of more intrusive nursing facilities. Unfortunately, budget strains across the country have led many areas to drastically cut the public funding of home health services. The Associated Press noted this week that three out of four states have reduced aging and disability services over the past two years alone. For example, many areas have slashed the amount of time that nurses can spend making house calls, have ended meal deliveries, and cut senior day care programs. The cuts have thrown a wrench into many elder care plans by eliminating public assistance that some had come to rely on.
The story is no different in our area. The latest New York state budget made similar painful cuts that slashed publicly funded at-home care services for seniors. The Home Care Association of New York State reports that since 2008 there have been $434 million in state cuts to home and community-based care. Upwards of 80% of long-term home health care providers in our area are currently operating in the red. Barring some change, many of those providers will likely be forced to shut their doors in the near future. The stark situation suggests that all area residents need to take matters into their own hands. It is now more important than ever to conduct New York elder care planning as early as possible to ensure that the resources are available to maintain one’s lifestyle whenever extra care is needed.
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