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State Aging Agenda Seeks Funding for Senior Services

Nearly 20 percent of residents will be over 65 by 2030

Caregiver Margaret Sweasy sits for a portrait in her home, WA State News

Caregiver Margaret Sweasy wants to see an increase in funding for home care and adult day health programs in Washington state. — José Mandojana

Retirement security

McDonald said private employers need to adjust to the growing percentage of older workers, many of whom want to keep working, by offering greater job flexibility and ending age discrimination.

On retirement security, she said, "it's critical that we protect state employee pensions. Lawmakers should not skip payments to the pension fund or move future workers to defined contribution instead of defined benefit plans. The state should encourage more private employers to offer retirement savings plans to their workers." Inslee has said he's open to helping small businesses set up workplace retirement accounts.

To protect vulnerable adults, McDonald said it's vital to ensure full funding for programs safeguarding older people from physical and financial abuse, such as the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program.

During the gubernatorial campaign, Inslee suggested reducing spending on health and social services in order to increase funding for public schools and universities.

But McDonald said it's wrong to pit generations against each other.

"Every family wants quality education for their children and supportive services like Meals on Wheels for their elders. To say we should fund one at the expense of the other is a false dichotomy."

Maggie Sweasy anticipates she may eventually need respite care in taking care of her husband. "It's an honor and privilege to take care of him," she said. "But I say that knowing there will be resources to help me when things get a little tough."

Harris Meyer is a freelance writer based in Yakima, Wash.

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