Advocates for Nebraska’s aging population call for legislation, community involvement

Nebraskans ask lawmakers to turn attention to growing senior population.
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 10:49 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Call it the politics of getting older. It’s a serious issue facing Nebraska today, whether families realize it or not.

“In a few years the number of adults age 60 and over is going to greatly out outweigh the ones who are five and under.”

The Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging’s Mary Ann Eusebio is referring to a University of Omaha-Nebraska survey of Nebraskans 50 and over that outlines huge gaps in elder healthcare and services.

Nearly one in five Nebraskans is 70 or over, and more than half of Nebraskan’s in the survey said that if they needed in-home help in the future with personal activities like eating or dressing they don’t know if relatives or friends besides their partners would be willing to help.

“They don’t want to be a burden,” Eusebio said. “We get a lot of calls from older adults who don’t want to bother their family members and they’re looking for alternatives for services in the home or for transportation and we ask them, are there any family numbers that could help you and they go, oh, I don’t want to bother them.”

Omaha-based Right at Home specializes in in-home care and assistance, and they see Nebraskans caught in a place between coverages, especially with Medicare.

“There are state legislatures, members of congress, not just in this country but in every country, trying to grapple with how do we fund long-term care,” Doug Roberston said. “How do we pay for care so the people can age in the place that they desire?”

Doug Robertson is the director of healthcare regulation and compliance for Right at Home, and as part of the Moving Health Home Alliance they are working to forward legislation they say will streamline care for the aging population and their providers.

The bipartisan Expanding Care in the Home Act, H.R. 2853, sponsored by Nebraska congressman Adrian Smith is one such bill.

“We want to help small business owners that are trying to grapple with health care regulations and reimbursement policies,” Robertson said. “By doing so we can improve the quality of lives of those that we serve and help people continue on in their daily activities and help seniors to continue to live the light that they want to live.”

In a statement e-mailed to WOWT, Smith said:

“In-home care is often the simplest, preferred, and most family friendly option for Medicare beneficiaries across the country and in Nebraska, particularly in the Third District where proximity to care often poses a barrier to access. When traditional models of delivering care were challenged by COVID, it highlighted the need to modernize Medicare reimbursement for these services, and I’m always looking for opportunities to improve efficiencies connecting patients to the care they need.”

Eusebio said the time is now to focus on senior care.

“We need to get people interested in carrying for older adults and providing those services so that they can live their golden years in a happy place.”