Whitesburg KY

State slights seniors, disabled

Seniors citizens and the disabled hoping to live on their own might want to look at moving elsewhere, according to a new national report issued by three organizations, including the AARP, as they ranked Kentucky dead last in statefunded services for the two groups.

Released by AARP, The Commonwealth Fund and The SCAN Foundation, the report gives a state-by state comparison of long-term services using 26 performance indicators in five dimensions of care —affordability and access, choice of setting and provider, quality of life and quality of care, support for family caregivers and effective transitions — that measure the effect of state policy on the ability of older Americans to live on their own.

Kentucky ranked 51st overall behind every state and Washington D.C. The report put the Bluegrass State last in affordability and access and 50th in choice of setting and providers as well as quality of life and quality of care. Support for family caregivers fared only slightly better at 46th. The state also ranked 42nd for effective transitions, which compared things like the percent of nursing home residents with low care needs, nursing home stays lasting 100 days or more, hospitalizations and the percent of nursing home residents with moderate to severe dementia.

Most of Kentucky’s longterm care money is funneled into nursing homes, leaving homes and community based services scrambling to make ends meet, said Cathy Allgood Murphy, AARP Kentucky director of advocacy. Allgood Murphy said 81 percent of longterm care money goes into paying for nursing homes when statistics show home care also makes for a heavy burden on average salaries or savings.

“ They ( Kentucky) get all the money and it’s all for institutional care, even though everyone says keeping those needing long-term care at home is cheaper and results in a better quality of life,” Allgood Murphy said in a news release.

The report found that the median out-of-pocket costs for nursing homes in Kentucky were 269 percent of the median household income of people older than 65, which was a little higher here than it was than other states. Costs in Alaska were 456 percent of median household incomes of those older than 65.

Statistics for home care costs were lower across the board but higher than other states at 92 percent of median household incomes. Those costs were lowest in Washington D.C. at 47 percent and highest in Rhode Island at 111 percent.

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