10 Aug Florida puts more money into Community Care for the Elderly
By Diane C. Lade, Staff writer
Finally, there has been a state funding increase for Florida’s Community Care for the Elderly, one of the first programs in the country focused on keeping seniors at home and out of more expensive nursing facilities.
The extra $1 million approved this last legislative session, which brings the total to $41.5 million, is the first raise Community Care has received in 10 years. But South Florida agencies serving seniors say it won’t go far in whittling down the more than 26,000 people on the waiting list statewide as of July 25.
They predict demand for the program will remain high as the 85-plus population has become one of South Florida’s fastest-growing age groups, according to the U.S. Census.
Community Care provides personal care, delivered meals and other assistance for disabled or frail elders age 60 or older living at home. The average client is 81 years old with multiple serious medical conditions. About half have lost their spouses, and one-third have dementia.
They are people who often live on Social Security checks, struggling to pay for prescriptions and medical treatments, said Robert Beck, a consultant for Florida’s regional aging planning agencies. But their incomes aren’t low enough to qualify them for Medicaid, the health care program for the poor that also pays for in-home help.