8. December 2014 11:29
by Nora Super
With the holiday season in full swing, many of us find ourselves in a whirl of shopping, decorating, cooking, and celebrating. But even with this jumble of activities and festivities, at the very top of many of our holiday “to do” lists is a single item—returning to the places and communities we call home.
If this time of year brings thoughts of being home for the holidays, then it’s fitting to remember that 2014 marks the 15th Anniversary of the landmark Olmstead decision. In that case, although focused on people with disabilities, the Supreme Court fundamentally recognized the right of every person—which includes older adults—to live, work, play, and thrive in their local community.
The vast majority of older adults want to remain in their homes and communities, enjoying friendly faces and familiar places—and retaining better control of their lives.
The dignity that remaining at home and in the local community engenders is at the crux of the promise of Olmstead, and making that promise a reality for all is what the Administration has been doing over the past six years. For example:
Initiatives like these are helping countless older adults remain in their homes, active in their communities, and secure in the knowledge that assistance is available when needed.
One of the four main focus areas for the 2015 White House Conference on Aging is long-term service and supports for older adults. In late November, I participated in a symposium sponsored by the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) and the Claude Pepper Center at Florida State University (FSU) that emphasized why initiatives like those outlined above, working in partnership with the national aging network, are essential to ensure that older adults remain independent and thriving in their communities as long as possible. Symposium participants noted that support needs to include emotional support, such as sharing problems or feelings; informational support, such as supplying advice and guidance; and instrumental support, such as providing rides or assisting with housekeeping or meals.
During this symposium and in listening sessions with the Older Women’s League and the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, several participants also stressed the importance of examining how older adults pay for long-term care outside the home when that does become necessary, and that this needs to be part of any larger discussion of long-term services and supports. As Mary from Oklahoma commented on our website, “We must address long-term care financing…The cost is high to provide the care—or to dismiss the issue.”
Having the right long-term services can help older adults not only enjoy their home for the holidays, but each and every day—for as long as possible.
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