The economic downturn continues to negatively affect elders, with new reports predicting more low-income seniors will be forced to leave their homes because of state budget cuts specifically in the area of elder benefits. In a Market Watch article this week titled, “States Cut Services for Elderly, Disabled”, it was reported that at least 15 states cut funding for programs that provided at-home services to elders such as cooking and cleaning. In addition, a total of 41 states are now being faced with current and alarming budget deficits. In Illinois, for example, the state government is $5 billion in debt.
However, states are not waiting on the federal government for a hand-out, no doubt realizing that the federal government’s attention is on helping the larger corporations at this point in time. States are taking matters into their own hands by passing state economic stimulus packages and other legislation to improve the economy statewide. The Ohio state government will be moving forward in 2009 with a passed $1.6 billion stimulus package to revive its weakening economy.
The Elder Economic Security Initiative Standard Index is a usefel tool on local and state levels that can be used to guide state deliberations by showing what exactly elders need to be secure. As states ambitiously move to strengthen their economy it is important to remember the important role of service providers and advocates that support elders in this crucial time. The reality is that now even more seniors need added support and benefits pushed for by both groups and taking funding away from these groups will only lead to more seniors unable to progress toward economic security.