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AARP Arkansas Co-hosts Long Term Care Policy Summit

Senior couple, woman's hand on man's shoulder, rear view, close-up

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Long-term care needs balance. The majority of the money in Arkansas goes to institutional care. But Arkansans say they want to receive services at home. Experts say education and choices are key in planning for long-term care.

“You give me a loved one – somebody who loves a family member – they can’t make those decisions if they don’t have options and choices,” Gov. Mike Beebe said during opening remarks of the 2010 Long-Term Care Policy Summit, co-sponsored by AARP Arkansas. “We have the obligation to help each other. We’re not animals in a jungle. We are brothers and sisters, and I applaud your advocacy.”

Joann Genovich-Richards, a registered nurse and PhD in health care policy, also addressed the 200 AARP members, volunteers and health-care professionals at Thursday’s summit, co-sponsored with the Arkansas Department of Human Services and the Division of Aging & Adult Services.

“Our members demand we create more choices in how and where individuals receive long-term care,” she said.

Genovich-Richards, a member of the AARP National Policy Council, pointed to a program within the new Health Care Law, designed to provide more coverage for long-term care, and “green houses,” a new concept in long-term care that aims to allow people to live in a home setting while receiving extended services. She said such programs will help families and medical professionals make better choices in the future.

The summit also featured lectures from John Selig, Director of Arkansas Department of Human Service; Anne Montgomery, Senior Policy Advisor, U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging; Martha Roherty, executive director of the National Association of State Units on Aging; Maria Reynolds-Diaz, AARP Arkansas Director; Helen Wingard, AARP Regional Vice President; Krista Hughes, Director of the Division of Aging and Adult Services, Arkansas DHS; and Gene Gessow, Director of the Division of Medical Services Arkansas DHS.

“It was the most up-to-date information from federal and state experts on the status of long-term care,” said AARP Arkansas Senior State Director Maria Reynolds-Diaz.

The number of Arkansans age 85 and older is projected to grow by nearly 50 percent by 2030. These statistics compelled AARP Arkansas to commission a survey to gauge state residents’ opinions about long-term care. More than three-quarters of respondents want to receive long-term care from family, friends or a personal aide. This is consistent with national findings that show 89 percent of Americans 50-plus want to remain in their own homes as long as they can.

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