Welcome to the April 2009 Seniors Digest
This month we have much to tell you about. Earlier this week, the state Senate and House released their proposed budgets for 2009-11. Both plans include significant cuts to programs serving older adults, with the House cuts generally being steeper. The Advisory Council will continue its advocacy efforts in hopes of stopping or at least reducing these cuts to vital services.
Members of the Healthy Washington Coalition unfurled a giant "safety net" at the State Capitol on March 11, urging lawmakers to use health care dollars provided by the federal economic stimulus package to prevent cuts to the state's health and long-term care safety net programs. See below to learn about the recent budget cuts.*
These cuts make it more and more imperative that seniors and their advocates focus on empowerment and working together!
Here are some ways seniors in our area are taking charge during these tough economic times—taking steps to be in control of their health, of their finances, of their social connectivity and creativity, and focusing on the spirit of giving back to the community.
- Cooking is just more fun when you work together! Learn about Community Kitchens, where groups of people get together to create economic, delicious meals.
- Read about a recent comprehensive caregiver survey, which reveals much about family caregivers in Washington state. Caregivers are also invited to attend a conference on June 1.
- Learn about the "village concept," a great way seniors are joining together to form their own communities with shared interests and resources. A NEST is growing in northeast Seattle!
- Mark your calendar for the "Taking Charge in Tough Times" event, the 24th Annual Alzheimer's Conference, caregiver events, the Healthy Aging Fair, and much more.
- April 19-25 is National Volunteer Week, and seniors are answering the call as our nation feels an ever-greater need for people who will step up to the challenge—and benefit their own health in the process! To help get you motivated, give your brain a workout with the "Benefits of Volunteering" wordfind.
For More Information…
See "Links You Can Use" for local websites that can direct you to services for seniors. And check out SeniorsDigest.org, our national companion website, which includes the new, improved Online Information Center, where you will find resources and information about issues of interest to older adults and their families.
We hope you will refer to our electronic pages often—to obtain advice, to learn of new and exciting services, and to offer us your constructive feedback.
Read Seniors Digest and tell us what you think. We are here to help.
Cathy VonWald, Chair
Seattle-King County Advisory Council
on Aging and Disability Services
* Update on the Recent Budget Cuts
Here is a snapshot of these cuts offered in four areas:
- Adult Day Health. The Senate partially funds the service (but eliminates the transportation); the House eliminates the entire service area.
- Senior Citizens Services Act (SCSA). The Senate has a smaller cut ($284,000 from admin) than the House ($914,000 from services, a 5% cut). The SCSA supports a variety of programs such as Information and Assistance, discretionary Case Management, and nutrition services.
- Medicaid Home Care Services. The Senate cuts all Medicaid clients' personal care hours by an average of 3%; the House cuts these hours by an average of 4.25%.
- Agency-Paid Family Home Care Providers. Both the Senate and the House budgets require family members providing Medicaid-paid personal care and providers who reside with their client to be paid as "Individual Providers" rather than as agency providers.
The month of April will be focused on reconciling the two budgets, with the target ending date for the session on April 26. Citizen advocates will be communicating with their elected representatives on how to do the least damage to the aging network in these tight budgetary times.
Seniors Digest will keep you informed of further advocacy opportunities!