The 65 and over population is the fastest growing age group in Minnesota. According to the Department of Health, between 2000 and 2030, the 65 and over population will increase from 12.1 percent to 24 percent of the total state population (or about one in every four Minnesotans). Minnesota needs to be prepared for this population shift.
Hubert H. Humphrey once said, “The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” This is why we need to continually try to improve our long term care system.
From getting a ride to the grocery store to receiving help with daily activities, there is a wide range of care that our aging population needs. As loved ones grow older, families are faced with tough questions about providing the care they require and deserve. The care is usually available, but it can sometimes be difficult to find.
There are several websites that provide helpful information. One site I suggest is www.MinnesotaHelp.info (click on “Senior Link”). You will find information for seniors, their families and caregivers on a variety of issues, including:
Adult Day Services – Type in your zip code and the search engine will link you to adult day services and centers in your area.
Nursing Homes – Finding a nursing home that is right for you or your loved one can be a daunting task. The website offers useful tips and a list of questions to ask when looking for a nursing home.
Help with Care and Chores at your Home – Homemaker services are services that are delivered at home which do not include personal care. Homemakers are men and women that help you take care of daily chores around the house that you or your loved one may not be able to complete as easily as before. MinnesotaHelp.Info may be able to help you find the homemaker services you or your loved one needs.
Transportation – There are different types of formal transportation programs (programs run by an agency like the county or senior center). They include senior buses, door-to-door disability transportation, public transit, and much more. There may be waiting lists or you may have to be eligible for the program. Make sure you plan ahead well in advance.
Medicare and other Benefits – Finding the appropriate benefits can be a tough task. The MinnesotaHelp.Info website may be able to point you in the right direction.
These are just a few of the topics discussed on their website. Visit www.minnesotahelp.info or call 1-800-333-2433 for more information.
You can also find useful information on your county website:
Ramsey County Human Services – http://www.co.ramsey.mn.us/hs/index.htm
Washington County Community Services – www.co.washington.mn.us (search for “community services”)
It is important to follow changes to our services as they happen on the state and national levels. To see on new initiatives being implemented by the Department of Human Services, go to their website at www.dhs.state.mn.us and search for “new initiatives for DHS”. These initiatives are designed to strengthen the long-term sustainability of Continuing Care programs, advance reforms, and improve consistency of the programs across the state.
I have enjoyed meeting many area residents and their families at area nursing homes and have met some residents who have reached 100 years! I would like to extend a special thanks to everyone working in the health care field. Whether it is volunteering, part-time or a life-long career, the impact on your community is immense and you should be commended for you efforts.
As you know, the state is currently facing a $5 billion (as stated in the recent forecast) deficit. Legislators and the Governor will be looking at all of spending in state government to find possible reductions. Health care, which is the state largest budget item, will no doubt be a topic of discussion. As we move towards the budget deadline, I will be working to keep any funding reductions for long-term care to a minimum.
As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions about any issue. Please visit my Senate website at senate.mn/senatorwiger. I also encourage you to visit me at the Capitol, or let me know if you’d like me to stop by your home or apartment. Also, please tune in to my local cable TV show, “Your Capitol: What’s Up?,” which appears on public access channels 15 and 16.