CHARLESTON — Advocates voiced their concern Wednesday for West Virginia legislative funding necessary for key programs to serve West Virginia's senior citizens.
Speaking Wednesday at the State Capitol, Bill Carpenter, president of West Virginia Directors of Senior and Community Services, said programs such as meal delivery and family caregivers need additional funding.
Representatives from AARP West Virginia spoke Wednesday about a recent survey on possible programs for senior citizens throughout the state.
The AAPR survey shows 93 percent of West Virginians 40 and over feel it is important to have resources in place to allow seniors to remain at home for as long as possible. Four out of five West Virginians are also in support of services that would help seniors live by themselves. The services include meal deliveries and home care providers.
Among the survey’s other findings:
More than eight in 10 West Virginians (84%) would prefer to receive care at home from a caregiver if needed for themselves or their loved ones.
Four out of every five West Virginia voters believe it is important to have services available to help older adults live independently, and support their family caregivers, such as home delivered meal programs and congregate meals, such as senior lunch programs.
“Our survey results indicate that a lot of West Virginians support the critical services that support family caregivers, and that help older adults live independently at home,” said Rich Stonestreet, AARP West Virginia State President. “Caregiving is one of these rare issues that crosses geographic and political lines. This isn’t a Democrat issue. It’s not a Republican issue. It’s a family issue.”
Carpenter explained there had been no rate increases since 2009, Carpenter expressed concern about funding for meal delivery reimbursements and support of family care givers.
Looking to the legislative budget process, Carpenter said, “... that’s what we’re trying to tell the Legislature ... imagine a utility company being told for 10 years ‘you cannot raise your rates’ ... I don’t think many utility companies would be left.”
Delegate Zack Maynard, R-Lincoln, and Senator Rollan Roberts, R-Raleigh, spoke at the conference in support of both AARP and the seniors of West Virginia.
Maynard reflected on his own experience of being adopted and raised by his grandparents. He thanked the senior citizens of the state for their efforts to improve West Virginia.
“Let me tell you something, folks. Your generation is the greatest generation and what you guys have done for the state of West Virginia is quite amazing. And it’s time for the legislators to start having your backs,” Maynard said.
Roberts began by joking about his own age. In terms of being a senior citizen, Roberts said he is “totally officially in that ballpark now.” Roberts said the issues these people face are important to him because as a pastor, he is accustomed to helping people.
“I appreciate that you all are getting together and working together. That’s very important. Hopefully together we can see some great things happen for senior citizens,” Roberts said.
As outlined Wednesday by AARP West Virginia: "Home-based and community-based services provide opportunities for West Virginia residents to receive care in their own home or community. Types of care could include help with personal care, health care, meals, or household chores. Receiving care at home is often less expensive than receiving it in an institution, like a nursing home, and it is often less stressful since care is provided in the comfort of one’s own home."