Independence at Risk: Older Californians with Disabilities Struggle to Remain at Home as Public Supports Shrink

Kietzman, K.G., Durazo, E.M., Torres, J.M., Soon Choi, A. & Wallace, S.P. (2011, December). Independence at Risk: Older Californians with Disabilities Struggle to Remain at Home as Public Supports Shrink. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Abstract

California's low-income seniors with disabilities are struggling to remain in their homes as public funding for long-term care services shrinks and may be slashed even further, according to a new study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research conducted with support from The SCAN Foundation.

Should as much as $100 million in additional cuts be made to In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) on Dec. 15, as proposed by the state Legislature, seniors with disabilities will lose crucial support systems that allow them to remain safely in their homes and out of nursing homes. This vulnerable group could face a 20 percent loss in the number of paid caregiver hours they receive, on top of cuts already enacted earlier this year.

For the study, researchers spent a year following and documenting the lives of a typical group of seniors with disabilities who are enrolled in Medicare and Medi-Cal and receive in-home and community care in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties. The seniors (whose names are changed here to maintain anonymity) depend on fragile networks of paid public programs and unpaid help to live safely and independently at home in spite of already limited caregiving hours.

Aging safely and independently at home is not only a strongly held desire of most Americans; the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Olmstead v. L.C. and E.W. (1999) requires public programs to honor these desires when feasible, the study authors said (abstract from: http://healthpolicy.ucla.edu/NewsReleaseDetails.aspx?id=97).

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