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Moving out-of-country can cause abrupt end to senior independence

Staff writer

Marion County residents getting in-home services under the Senior Care Act could lose them if they move to another county.

People who get the services elsewhere can lose them if they move into Marion County.

The problem arises when someone moves from a county in one of the state’s 11 Agency on Aging territories to one in a different agency area.

While most social service recipients get the assistance wherever they live, Senior Care Act service recipients qualify for help in just the area where they reside. If they move to another area, they go on a waiting list unless money is available in their new location to provide service.

The Senior Care Act provides services including attendant care, homemaker services, respite care, adult day care and one-time services to people over 60 who need help to stay in their own homes, where they remain contributing members of their community. The program is administered through the state’s 11 Area Agencies on Aging.

People who can remain in their own homes continue to support local economies by paying property taxes, shopping at local stores and contributing to local churches, said Julie Govert Walter, executive director of North Central-Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging, which serves an 18-county region including Marion County.

“The mission of our agency is to do everything we can to help people remain healthy and living at home, usually with the help of caregivers, as long as we can,” Walter said. “That’s our goal.”

In the NCFH region, 140 people are on waiting lists for Senior Care Act services. There are 77 waiting for attendant care, 152 needing homemaker services, four waiting for respite care services, and five needing one-time services of some type.

NCFH’s waiting list is the longest of the state’s Area Agencies.

Depending on their income, recipients might have to pay some or all of the cost out of their pockets, or services can be provided free if their income is low enough to qualify for that.

Walter said four of the state’s AAA offices currently have waiting lists for Senior Care Act services. She points to $120,000 statewide reductions in funding as the reason.

“Our agency’s share of that reduction was right around $12,000,” Walter said.

Walter said the area agencies don’t expect the lost funding to be replaced this year.

“I do know that the cut they made last year is not reinstated in the budget I’ve seen,” Walter said.

Walter said funds for services have not been a priority with legislators at either the state or federal levels in the last several years.

“It’s just the way it is,” Walter said.

The funding issue is affecting not only in-home services, but programs such as senior meals as well.

The state’s Area Agencies on Aging put funding for the Senior Care Act as top priority when they talk to legislatures, Walter said.

Last modified Feb. 11, 2016

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