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Seniors with mental health disabilities struggle with state cuts

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California’s deep cuts to programs are affecting seniors with disabilities’ chances of staying home and living independently. Public funding for long term care has been and may continue to be cut according to a new study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

With $100 million in potential cuts for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) looming, seniors with disabilities will lose the support that allows them to stay home. They may lose 20% of their paid caregiver hours. “California was once a national model for long-term care, but those services are being rolled back,” said Kathryn Kietzman, lead author. “Our system is far from perfect, but as our population ages, this isn’t the time to take away the supports seniors depend on. A 20% cut in caregiver hours would be devastating to disabled seniors’ health and well-being. And in the long run, it could cost the state more, because ailing seniors will end up in expensive emergency rooms, hospitals, and nursing homes.”

The study found that the needs of seniors with disabilities are unstable. They change continuously. Some people have slow and steady decline, but for others health worsens dramatically in unpredictable ways. This is true especially for declines in mental health, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Having to move out of familiar environments into a senior care facility can exacerbate the tenuous mental health many possess.

“We need to develop a network of community-based services and supports tht focus on an individual’s needs, values and preferences so that all who need daily support can access the right services – from the right provider, at the right time in the right place,” said Dr. Bruce Chernof, president and chief executive officer of The SCAN Foundation.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, UCLA

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