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Aging safely at home? California's disabled elderly are barely holding on
Date:1/31/2011

The network of public services that supports California's low-income, disabled elderly is fragile, affecting the ability of these vulnerable residents to live independent lives in their own homes, according to a new study from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

This policy note reports the first findings from a yearlong effort to follow the lives and challenges encountered by several dozen representative older Californians in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Clara who are enrolled in Medicare and Medi-Cal and who receive in-home and community care.

The documentary project comes as California lawmakers consider additional cuts to a network of services that help seniors remain "safely in their homes" the stated goal of these public programs and the way in which an overwhelming number of Americans say they want to age.

The policy note, "Holding On: Older Californians with Disabilities Rely on Public Services to Remain Independent," shows seniors struggling to live functional lives in the face of already reduced caregiving hours. For example:

Caring for the caregivers

Sara cares for her disabled son and husband, whose heart disease, diabetes, incontinence and limited mobility require 24-hour care. There's help from In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) and other family members, but Sara is the primary caregiver. Now, her back is acting up. She's been delaying seeing a doctor to take care of her own needs who will care for her family if she's hospitalized?

Delicate balance

Paralyzed by polio, Mary breathes with the help of a ventilator and gets around in a wheelchair. She needs help to dress, bathe, use the toilet and eat. She's created an elaborate system to meet her needs, using maximum IHSS hours of support and offering room and board to another caregiver in return for care. Mary's happy with her life and rates her health as "excellent," but she knows that even a s
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Contact: Nancy Brands Ward
nancybward@ucla.edu
310-794-6963
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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