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Delaware Headlines

Aging-in-Place Working Group releases recommendations to help seniors in state

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Delaware Public Media
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Delaware’s Aging-in-Place Working Group weighs in on how to help the state’s growing senior population remain in their homes for as long as possible.

The 16 member legislative working group delivered 11 policy recommendations to improve home and community based services for older Delawareans.

The goal was to address inequities and service gaps across race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status and geographic location.

Their recommendations include establishing standing legislative committees on aging, creating a community navigator program to help seniors and volunteer networks better access services, and promoting a more proactive approach to health and planning for aging.

Other recommendations include providing funding and support for existing programs and initiatives, investigating potential racial disparities that may hamper health equity, and increasing protections for seniors against exploitation and abuse.

State Sen. Spiros Mantzavinos chaired the Working Group, and says making people aware of available services is a priority

"Implementing and executing on a wide ranging and regular public awareness campaign to help spread the word about what services are available,” said Mantzavinos. “One of the things we found out was there are a lot of services available for seniors and caregivers, but people don't know about it and there's a lot of reasons to that. It's ranging from someone struggling to admit that they need help to try to find out what's the best thing to get or find for their parents or their loved ones."

The group also calls for further investigation into additional barriers that prevent seniors from remaining home - such as housing accessibility and affordability and high cost of care.

The 16 member group heard concerns that existing services are not used to their full potential and its chair, Mantzavinos, says its report shows action is needed sooner than later.

"This report I think shows that it's not an issue that's coming to us in the future, it's an issue that we have to start to address now. Because when you look at the population demographics we are getting older by the day, and we really need to start to approach this," said Mantzavinos.

Mantzavinos hopes to get standing legislative committees on aging created in the next General Assembly.

The recommendations to the General Assembly are as follows:

• Establish standing legislative committees on aging;

• Create a community navigator program to help seniors and various volunteer networks better access services;

• Implement wide-ranging and regular public awareness campaigns to help spread the word about available services for seniors and caregivers;

• Provide additional funding and support for existing programs and initiatives, such as those that address food insecurity and provide specialized memory care;

• Promote a more proactive approach to health and planning for aging;

• Investigate potential racial disparities that may hamper health equity;

• Reframe aging and combat stigmas;

• Continue to readjust reimbursement rates for service providers;

• Take active steps to bolster recruitment and retention of the healthcare workforce;

• Invest in training and respite programs for caregivers;

• Increase protections against exploitation and abuse for seniors