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    Posted April 1, 2014 by
    Leesville, Louisiana
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    Caring for Louisiana's elderly

    Healthcare has and will continue to take center stage in our country as we continue to look for ways to better serve our elderly population. One way would be for states to take a more aggressive role in being the solution. Our Governors and state congresses should be actively seeking ways to do this internally. As our elderly population continues to grow, we should see this reflected more in our states’ budgets. When analyzing state services for the elderly in the State of Louisiana, it is easy to see how certain subgroups in our elderly cohort could be neglected with regards to funding and outreach. Louisiana has a very diverse population and elderly residents, contrary to popular opinions and stereotypes. According to the 2010 US Census Database, our elderly population was as follows: persons 65-74, 282,925 (6.3%), 75-84, 175,328 (3.9%), and 85- Older, 58,676 (1.3%) (USCD, 2013). This accounts for roughly 11.5% of our state’s overall population. For this reason, I do not see why increasing our state’s efforts on elderly advocacy and services should be so challenging. This population makes up over 10% of our population, which is to say, “1 in 10” Louisianans are elderly (65 years of age and older). Issues such as non-institutionalized care and long-term care should be a serious discussion in our state’s legislature, to better serve this growing population. If all 516,929 of our elderly citizens where institutionalized simultaneously, this would overwhelm our state’s hospital and medical capabilities; not to mention that 148,840 (9%) of those 65 and older were listed as “living alone.” For these reasons, we should be encouraging independence and mobility among this cohort.  There is a vast network in that state of Louisiana that attempts to advocate for, protect, and service our diverse and large elderly population.. The Elderly and Disabled Adult (EDA) Waiver Program is a program that offers vast benefits to its members. Among its numerous services, it offers: Support Coordination (case management), Transitional Intensive Support Coordination (people leaving nursing homes), Transitional Services (people going from nursing facilities to community), Personal Assistance Service (basic self-care activities or tasks that enable persons to live in own home, Environmental Accessibility Adaptation (home modification), Personal Emergency Response System, and Adult Day Health Care Services (health/medical & social services provided in community-based center) (LDHH, 2014). The Louisiana Office of Behavioral Health & Mental Health Services provides a variety of treatments for people who have different types of mental illnesses. Due to the association of illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, Delirium, and Dementia with aging, this program can play a vital role in caring for our state’s elderly and serving as a watch dog for abuse and neglect to this cohort. Two arms of the office that I find of particular interest are Family Support Services and Mental Health Clinics. The Office of Aging and Adult Services – Adult/Elderly Protective Services also plays a vital role in protecting and serving this population. They also publicize Louisiana Law RS 15: 1504, which requires the reporting of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults. This law also protects against retaliations for reports filed. This office seeks to serves those whom live in unlicensed and non-regulated settings; oversees the abuse policy in DHH administered facilities; serves those with mental, developmental, or physical disability; chronic disease, frail elders, limited ability to provide own care/protection (LDHH, 2014). This office serves as more of a coordination hub at the state level in taking care of our elderly and I find its creation, existence, and future operations very necessary.  I believe that Louisiana as a whole has a great network in place to support its elderly population. On a smaller level, Bossier and Caddo Parishes offer numerous outlets to ease the potential burden of long-term care for our elderly. One of the main organizations that coordinate for this area is the Caddo Parish Council on Aging (CCOA). It was established in 1972 to specifically focus on the needs of our older residents. This program makes an attempt to meet the needs of the elderly by providing numerous services such as long-term care, insurance, and personal care providers (CCOA, 2014). Addressing the needs of older Americans, Louisianans in particular, is not going to be easy. It will require a change in ideology and bringing elderly advocacy into the forefront of the political arena. While our national government is attempting to reform healthcare, our state governments can and must assist at their levels to do the same.
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