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AARP Report Ranks Utah Both 'High' and 'Low' In Caring For Seniors

PHOTO: A report from AARP shows that Utah both leads and trails in areas of caring for older Americans. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
PHOTO: A report from AARP shows that Utah both leads and trails in areas of caring for older Americans. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
June 19, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah ranks both high and low in a report from AARP that considers several aspects of care and quality of life for older adults, people with disabilities, and family caregivers.

The State Scorecard on Long-term Services and Supports ranks Utah second in the nation for effective transitions.

Susan Reinhard, AARP’s senior vice president for public policy, says that means Utah does well in moving people between nursing homes and hospitals, which can be a very difficult transition.

"Just the mere transfer to the hospital for someone with dementia can be very disruptive,” she explains. “And they may not return even to the state that they were in to begin with. There's lots of research around that."

The report ranks Utah last among all states in the support for family caregivers category, which measures the level of stress and fatigue caregivers experience, and other factors.

Reinhard says the top ranking states – Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska – have implemented laws and policies that support family caregivers and build a stronger Medicaid safety net.

As America's senior population is expected to double by 2030, Reinhard says caregivers will become even more important.

"We have to be able to support family caregivers now, and in the future, because they are the ones that are doing the work," she says.

The report concludes that Utah can improve its ranking by passing laws and policies that include paid sick leave for caregivers – and allocating more Medicaid dollars to home and community-based services as opposed to nursing homes.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT