Photo provided by AARP Connecticut

Connecticut’s older residents have been hit with cuts to services that help them live independently in their own home on a yearly basis: new co-pays and co-pay increases to the CT Home Care Program for Elders, cuts to services that prevent short-term institutionalization and family respite, a new enrollment freeze on the CT Home Care Program for Elders that denies seniors access to critical care at home, and more.

Now, they must brace for another series of cuts.

We all understand everyone must share the pain during difficult budget times. But how much of that pain should our older residents — who have paid into the system their entire life — have to endure? They pay taxes, contributed and raised families, and helped build communities across our state. It’s our turn to step up for those older adults who are most in need and want to live safely at home.

Consider this: Connecticut is currently the seventh oldest state in the nation and more than one in four residents of the state will be 60 or older by 2030. This demographic trend will put even more pressure on Connecticut’s long-term care system.

They also foreshadow the need for a structural shift to home and community based care and reduced dependence on costly institutions. That means protecting and expanding home care and supporting the family caregivers that keep older loved ones out of nursing homes. Family Caregivers provide an estimated $5.9 billion annually in unpaid health and home care services to keep older loved ones safe and out of nursing homes. While that care is unpaid, it doesn’t come without a price.

Families are struggling to make ends meet, working additional hours, and trying to balance intergenerational family obligations. Continued erosion of safety net services means more family caregivers will be pushed to the brink, and ultimately more seniors will be forced to leave their homes to get the care they need.

That’s why now is the time to invest, and not retreat, from cost-effective home and community based services and respite care that gives family caregivers a hard-earned break. Let’s make sure the final state budget holds true to our values — helping families and seniors access the care they need to live where they want to be. Don’t devastate the programs our seniors need, at the time they need them most.

We appreciate your attention to this critical matter because, as Rosalyn Carter said, “There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.”

Tia Murphy is State President of AARP Connecticut. She can be reached by and on Twitter @TiaAARPCT. She wrote this on behalf of AARP Connecticut, which is included among the sponsors of this website.

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