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Kentucky Seniors: No Time to Wait for Vital Services

March 19, 2012

FRANKFORT, Ky. - There's a waiting game being played in Kentucky, and AARP says it involves seniors who don't have access to the meals and other services they need to live independently.

AARP Kentucky president James Kimbrough says his group is asking state lawmakers to help end that wait.

"The economy has wiped a lot of people's ability to hold on to a job, to have income other than Social Security coming in, and so they don't have food."

Kimbrough says seniors 65 and older make up more than 13 percent of Kentucky's population, and thousands of them are forced to wait for services from the Department for Aging and Independent Living.

"There's 19,000 people as of the end of December who are on the waiting list, not only for meals, but also for assistance in their homes in order to stay at home, not go into institutional services."

Kimbrough says that factor alone justifies the investment. He says Kentucky is paying $18,000 per year for its share of Medicaid expenses for each person living in a nursing home.

According to Kimbrough, more of them could be in their own homes if state services were better funded.

"We know that an individual can be maintained in their home with pretty comprehensive services. That costs between $10,000 and $12,000 per individual, per year."

Kimbrough says leaders in the House have agreed to put $5 million into the senior meals program each of the next two years. He calls it a good start, but it still leaves too many seniors with empty plates.

AARP is lobbying the state Senate to keep a $10 million allocation for senior meals in its version of the state budget, pointing out that the state has an obligation to take the matter seriously.

More information on "End the Wait" is at www.aarp.org.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - KY