In California, the state is divided into 33 “area agencies on aging.” Each agency covers a slice of the state and is responsible for channelling funds for a variety of senior services. The agencies roll up to the California Department of Aging, at the state government level.
Funding flows through the state to the local agencies on aging from the Federal government, under the Older Americans Act, and, to a very limited extent, state funding under the Older Californians Act.
The agencies on aging are a very good idea, even though only a fraction of services provided to seniors actually are delivered under the auspices of the agencies or providers with which they contract. Most services are provided to seniors through non-profit or for-profit businesses, including clinical medical providers, assisted living, home health and non-medical home care agencies.
The problem confronting the agencies on aging, of course, is that funding is being slashed, deeply and rapidly. Cuts have been occurring in the last few years, associated with the recession and lower tax revenues. With the recent legislation on the debt ceiling, those cuts will be deeper.
All of this is happening at a time when the population of California and the entire country continues to age, rapidly. In Sacramento County, where the office of Support For Home happens to be, we will actually see move seniors (60+) in the population than children (0-17) within twenty (20) years.
So, as the need for services for seniors increases, at a fairly steep ramp, funding to provide those services will be declining. That is simply a economic and demographic reality in our society. We will all — seniors, families, community agencies and businesses — have to become more creative about solutions.
If you are reading this outside of California, I guarantee that you are and will be seeing the same challenges. What are your recommendations?
Best wishes, Bert