Three priorities for this legislative session

Alaska Commission on Aging focuses its advocacy efforts

The Alaska Commission on Aging Legislative Advocacy Committee has identified these three advocacy priorities for this legislative session:

Preserve the senior safety net. This priority will focus on protecting funding and appropriate policies to the greatest extent possible in order to maintain existing core services for seniors. Specifically, this priority addresses (1) long-term support services (senior grant-funded services, Medicaid and Medicaid optional services, telemedicine/telehealth, and the Pioneer Homes); (2) elder protection; and (3) financial security (senior housing, transportation, and Senior Benefits).

Provide appropriate supports for family and other natural caregivers serving older Alaskans. The value of family caregiving is huge! This priority recognizes the fact that family caregivers provide the foundation of care for many seniors who are frail, including people with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia. If families are not able to access the training and supports they need, caregivers will be challenged to provide uncompensated care over the long-term. This priority seeks to preserve funding for caregiver supports (adult day, respite, training, counseling and other supports) in addition to implementing a uniform assessment tool to identify caregiver needs to promote person- and family-centered caregiver support and training. It also encourages senior service providers to engage family caregivers and to utilize telehealth technologies (when appropriate) to provide caregiver supports.

Improve capacity to serve persons with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. The commission is working with the Mental Health Trust and Division of Senior and Disabilities Services to develop alternative models of care to serve this vulnerable population and to produce cost savings that will provide support for the Pioneer Homes and residents who suffer from dementia, are low-income, but do not meet levels of care required for the waiver. This priority recommends the maintenance of existing funding for senior grant-funded services, including Adult Day and Senior-In-Home, until a new Medicaid option can be identified.

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