To the Editor – State must support ‘aging in place’ legislation

August 5, 2011

Letter to the Editor as it appeared in the Connecticut Post

In response to the July 31 article, “Priceless work for free,” I would like to thank Daniel Sanchez and his family for their commitment to enable his Mom to age in place. It is refreshing to see family members make the commitment and sacrifice to care for a loved one in the face of limited resources to support such home care.

Connecticut ranks as the seventh oldest state in the country in terms of population age but given the legislative record of our new governor and his majority, you wouldn’t think so.

By increasing the costs of co-pays, reducing the assets of surviving spouses and limiting home care assistance, he has reduced home care access and eligibility, placing seniors at risk of the more costly institutional care.

No one wants to go to a nursing home as the cost of care at home is less expensive by more than $6,000 per month and studies show that the care is better. So if everyone wants it, it’s less expensive and arguably better, why can’t we do it? Since becoming a state senator, I sought ways to improve government services by making them more effective and less costly to the taxpayer. I worked to achieve expansion of home care and respite programs to create a robust home care industry and enable “aging in place,” but received little to no support from the majority. Instead, the state will spend $2.4 billion on expensive nursing care for 1 percent of the population, rather than investing those funds into “aging in place,” which comes at a lower cost to the taxpayers and improved value for our families.

And as baby boomers, who represent a third of Connecticut’s population, move into retirement this year, the costs of nursing home care will only continue to skyrocket. If we do not begin addressing the issue of long-term institutional care and refocus it on home care, Connecticut will revisit another financial crisis like the one we now face.

Our state needs more like Daniel Sanchez and needs to spread this story so that the Legislature can see firsthand the importance and value of home care. AARP reported the value of this unpaid care is $420 billion, but the value to a person who ages in place is priceless.

State Sen. Kevin Kelly

21st Senate District