Report Offers Recommendations for State to Address Projected ‘Surge in Seniors’
To help California handle an anticipated "surge of seniors," the state should consider basing its elder-care programs on "need instead of age," according to a report prepared by the University of California's California Policy Research Center, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. Fernando Torres-Gil, professor of social welfare at the University of California-Los Angeles, said, "We question whether age is the appropriate criterion for allocating scarce resources and benefits when the older population will vary tremendously between those doing well physically and those doing poorly." During the next 40 years, the state is expected to experience a 172% increase in its number of seniors. Beginning in 2011, the senior population is expected to begin growing "dramatically," reaching 6.5 million by 2020; California currently has 3.5 million seniors. The biggest growth (a 200% increase) is expected to occur among seniors ages 85 and older, the AP/Times reports. The report, to be used by the state Health and Human Services Agency to develop a plan by 2003 that will manage the population boom, recommends that the state consider:
- Tax credits for employers who hire and retain seniors;
- College scholarships to assist seniors in preparing for new careers;
- Incentives for employers to provide employees with pensions;
- Low-interest loans for low-income seniors that would allow them to make modifications and repairs to their homes and continue living independently;
- Tax credits for those who build or rehabilitate housing for seniors;
- Construction standards for new homes that would make them adaptable for the elderly;
- An increased number of health workers trained to care for seniors;
- Community-based exercise and health promotion programs;
- Automobile innovations that would help the elderly, such as night-vision windshields, "smart cruse controls" and on-board navigation systems.
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