AARP ranks Kentucky last in the nation for long-term care and support for aging, disabled and family caregivers

Kentucky ranks last in the nation in its long-term care services and support for seniors, people with disabilities and family caregivers according to a report compiled by AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired Persons. The state ranked 46th in the last study, in 2011.

Long-term services and support, which includes home-care services, family-caregiver supports and residential services such as nursing homes, were evaluated in five different areas with a total of 26 indicators.

Kentucky ranked 51st in affordability and access, 50th in choice of setting and providers, 50th in quality of life and quality of care, 46th in support for family caregivers and 42nd in effective nursing-home transitions.

“The vast majority of older Kentuckians want to live independently, at home, as they age – most with the help of unpaid family caregivers,” Jim Kimbrough, state president of AARP Kentucky, said in the group’s online newsletter. “Even facing tight budgets following the Great Recession, most states made clear progress to help older residents achieve that goal. It’s time for Kentucky to step up to the plate, and this Scorecard shows what we have to do.”

The highest ranked states – Minnesota, Washington, Oregon and Colorado – have implemented laws and policies that build stronger Medicaid programs and support family caregivers, AARP said. These states show a decreased use of nursing homes and a minimized disruption in the transition between health care settings.

The report said Kentucky spends 81 percent of its funds aging and physical disability on institutional care, and only 19 percent on community-based care. In addition, waiting list for many programs at the Department of Aging and Independent Living are as long as five years.

AARP reports that more than 730,000 Kentuckians are considered unpaid family caregivers often because the cost of long-term care remains unaffordable for most middle-income families.

Since 2011, 24 states increased the percentage of Medicaid funds that support home- and community-based services. Kentucky did not, and ranks 50th among the states and the District of Columbia.

“Marsha Hockensmith, executive director of Kentucky Protection and
, a state agency that advocates for Kentuckians with
disabilities, said many people who end up in a long-term-care facility
can often be cared for adequately at home if they had access to the
services they need,” Mike Wynn of The Courier-Journal reports.

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