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Legislators Mull Resource Centers

Wyomingites 55 years old and older struggling to stay independent in their own homes may one day receive support from resource centers in their communities. Wyoming legislators are considering a bill to fund Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) across the state. The centers would also serve people 18 and older with disabilities.

ADRCs exist in 43 states and are designed to provide a gateway to services that support people with chronic illness or disability. ADRCs empower people to make informed decisions about their long-term care options, according to supporters of the proposal.

“The idea is to try to keep people in their homes. It means cost savings to the state and federal government,” said Sen. Marty Martin, D-Superior. “The cost of home-based services is minimal compared to the cost of a nursing home. People are much happier in their homes. It’s a better quality of life for persons with disabilities and a much better situation where people are able to age with dignity in their own homes.”

ADRCs also serve people 18 and older with disabilities. A federal grant to the Wyoming Institute for Disabilities funded a pilot center in Casper from 2006 to 2009. It served approximately 1,250 residents of Casper, Douglas and Glenrock but closed its doors in 2009 when federal funding ran out.

Center counselors provide information on topics such as Social Security and veterans’ benefits, Medicare and Medicaid. They help people find services in their communities such as housecleaning, meals and in-home care, according to supporters. Consumers generally communicate with ADRC counselors by phone, online or face-to-face.

In September 2009, the Wyoming Department of Health’s Aging Division received a $550,000 three-year federal grant to explore the creation of ADRCs.

Ideally, each county will have access to an ADRC, said Debbie Walter, who works in the Aging Division. “In order to receive [these federal] funds, we have to prove that we can sustain the ADRCs,” she said. The cost to the state would be $500,000 to cover the operation of the first ADRCs for a year.

“ADRCs across the nation have a strong track record … of saving state and local government’s money,” Martin said. “Also, survey after survey indicates that people want to stay in their homes and communities as they age. So if we can help people age in place, while saving the state money, I see that as a win-win situation for Wyoming.”

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