RALEIGH -- As North Carolina’s population ages, greater attention is being placed on the needs of older adults. AARP volunteers and e-activists successfully advocated for more funding for important programs that help older Tar Heels and their family caregivers.
According to the NC Department of Health of Human Services, 2019 marks the first year when the state is expected to have more residents over age 60 than ages 18 and younger. In 2025, one in five North Carolinians will be 65 and older.
AARP North Carolina Manager of Advocacy and Communications Lisa Riegel explains, “AARP is in a unique position to work in a nonpartisan way to address the policy priorities that will make life in North Carolina better for all ages. Now more than ever, we must set aside political differences and work towards pragmatic solutions to improve our health, finances and well-being.”
Representative Donna White (R), a registered nurse, aging specialist and former family caregiver explained, “I am hearing from more and more AARP members who know that improvements for older adults also help people of all ages. For example, the majority of family caregivers are working-age women. Finding ways to provide them with some support reduces stress and keeps them on the job instead of scrambling to take care of loved ones.”
Among the budget improvements AARP pushed for are greater support for home and community-based programs that help people live in their own homes and communities, additional funding for personal needs allowances that help provide basic dignity to residents of nursing homes, and more support for NC 2-1-1, a free service that connects people to available local resources including caregiver support.
The NC Coalition on Aging highlights some of the improvements made this year:
Home and Community Care Block Grant (HCCBG)
Expands the HCCBG, which provides in-home and community-based services in support of older adults and their unpaid primary caregivers. Changes allow an estimated additional 1,500 individuals to be served in FY 2019-2020 and an estimated additional 2,725 individuals to be served in FY 2020-2021.
Special Assistance (SA) Personal Needs Allowance
Provides funds to increase the personal needs allowance for SA recipients from $46 to $70 a month effective October 1, 2019.
Provides funds for the United Way of North Carolina, a non-profit organization, to support operations of the NC 2-1-1 program. This program operates a hotline that connects emergency/disaster survivors with needed resources, including Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant programs, State-operated support programs, and other forms of aid.