For Immediate Release
February 1, 2013
Ingrid McDonald, AARP / 206-330-6531
Jerry Reilly, ElderCare Alliance / 360-561-4212
“Age Wave” Bills Call the Alarm on the Need to Plan Now for Future Needs
Legislation establishes Joint Committee on Aging and Disability
OLYMPIA, Wash. (Feb. 1, 2013) – A bi-partisan group of Senators and Representatives today introduced a pair of bills to address the needs of Washington’s aging population. The so-called “Age Wave” bills, SB 5519 and HB 1631, would create a joint select committee on aging and disability issues.
“This will be the defining demographic shift of the future,” said Rep. Steve Tharinger (D-24 th). “We need to take meaningful steps to prepare so that our growing population of older people and people with disabilities have access to the health and long term services and supports they need and opportunities to stay engaged and connected in their communities.”
In addition to Rep. Tharinger, Rep. Johnson R., Green D., Harris R., Cody D., Ricelli D., Jinkins D., Morrell D., Appleton D., and Hope R. sponsored the House Bill. Initial support in the Senate comes from Sen. Barbara Bailey, R. Oak Harbor; Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D. Tacoma; Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R. Puyallup; Sen. Karen Keiser, D. Kent; and Sen. Steve Litzow, R. Mercer Island.
The committee would be comprised of elected officials and executive agency executives. The group would meet over the next two years to plan for the needs of an aging society and a growing population of people with disabilities. They would cover topics such as health and long term care, financial security, housing and transportation, and develop a strategy of actions for the future.
“Many families face a no win situation when a loved one needs long term care,” said Sen. Bailey. “My bill calls for a study of financing options for long term care that will help people plan for their own needs and avoid having to spend down to poverty to get the help they need.”
“The very fabric of Washington state society will change as our citizens age,” Sen. Darneille said. “We need to do more to support seniors and people with disabilities, including looking at how we can expand existing programs that support families like family caregiver supports and Aging and Disability Resource Centers.”
By 2030, one-in-five Washingtonians will be 65 or older, according to statistical trends. The age wave will dramatically increase demand for long-term services and support.
“A lot of changes will be necessary to accommodate the older population of the future,” said Ingrid McDonald, AARP Washington’s Advocacy Director. “They will need affordable, high quality long term services and supports that help them stay in their homes as long as possible, housing that is accessible and close to stores and services, and transportation options that keep people from becoming isolated when they can no longer drive.”
“Only through further policy discussion and attention will Washington best be able to support seniors,” said Jerry Reilly, chair of the ElderCare Alliance. “We thank the sponsors and hope the legislature moves forward to set up this new committee to start planning for the coming ‘Silver Tsunami.’”
The bills introduce today are supported by a broad range of organizations including AARP Washington, the Washington State Senior Citizens’ Lobby, the ElderCare Alliance, Washington Association of Area Agencies on Aging, SEIU Healthcare 775NW and the Alzheimer’ Association, Western and Central Washington State Chapter.