Residents and staff from Welcome Home communities gathered with hundreds of seniors, care providers, and long-term care supporters from throughout Minnesota Rallied at the Minnesota state capitol today to urge state legislators to take in to account the shifting state demographics and prioritize the budgets to meet the needs of seniors – the fastest growing segment of the state’s population.
Residents and staff made the trip for the rally and then meet with their legislators from, Orchard Hill in New Ulm, Potter Ridge in Red Wing, Twin Town Villa in Breckenridge and staff from Welcome Home Health Care attended today’s rally.
The rally included speakers representing seniors, caregivers and legislative leaders, and featured Alive and Kickin’ – a senior rock and roll choir.
“As our elected officials, state legislators are charged with the mission of balancing the state budget,” said Robert Dahl, board chair of Aging Services of Minnesota. “Yet even in tough economic times, there are values and expectations that need to remain as priorities, and one of these is making sure older adult services are available for vulnerable and elderly Minnesotans.
There is growing concern over jobs that are especially felt in rural communities across the state, where older adult service providers are often among the largest employers in the area.
The overarching concern among rally attendees is that additional cuts in funding make it difficult to provide the best possible care for seniors and to maintain infrastructure and attract and retain senior care and service facilities across the state.
Residents and staff from Welcome Home who had the opportunity to meet with their representatives, focused on cuts to services, are cuts to real people. Whether it is the care provider who struggles to afford health insurance or to the resident who relies on Elderly Waiver to help pay for their care – any cuts to programs affect real people.
Another point we made was that those who live in assisted living communities value their choice. Assisted living communities are an affordable option for seniors when it comes to their care. Currently, assisted living communities are able to care for three residents compared to one in a care center. Cutting the Elderly Waiver program may take away access to assisted living services and force them in to a less cost effective option much earlier than they really need.
For others at the rally, it was a way to ask the lawmakers to keep the promise to seniors and ensure that the growing senior demographic has access to a continuum of cost-effective services to meet their diverse care needs.
“Seniors are very concerned about the possibility of losing services that keep us living independently – and at the same time losing quality care for our loved ones in nursing homes,” said AARP member Christeen Stone. “Minnesota has had a strong tradition of quality long-term care. Let’s hold fast to that tradition and find a better way to protect our most vulnerable Minnesotans in this budget debate.”
Those in attendance hope that the rally will draw attention to the state’s shifting demographics and remind lawmakers that they must prioritize the budget to meet the changing needs of the people – which means prioritize funding for senior care.
To see a video of Alive and Kickin’, on our YouTube channel.
For more photos of today’s rally, click here to go to our Flickr stream.