California’s New ‘Master Plan on Aging’ Targeting Home Care, Alzheimer’s

California’s recently sworn in governor is making aging and in-home care top priorities for the state, which has a senior population expected to increase by roughly 4 million within the next decade.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a democrat, called for the creation of a new “master plan on aging” during his first State of the State address on Tuesday. The master plan will focus in part on addressing the skyrocketing demand for person-centered care, transportation services for older adults and in-home supportive services, according to Newsom.

Other goals include reworking California’s “patchwork” of public services and providing resources to prevent social isolation, while also alleviating pressures health care organizations face from an acute nursing shortage.

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“The Golden State is getting grayer,” Newsom said during his address. “We need to get ready for the major demographic challenge headed our way. For the first time in our history, older Californians will outnumber young children.”

Home care stakeholders told Home Health Care News that they welcomed the governor’s message and appreciated the fact he was sticking to the key issues he campaigned on, which included aging.

“The bottom line is he talked about a master plan on aging, so we were excited about that when he mentioned it during his campaign many times,” Dean Chalious, president and CEO of the California Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH) told HHCN. “We’re very excited he recognized the need and is willing to roll up his sleeves and tackle these very important issues.”

As part of the master plan, Newsom specifically called for the launch of an Alzheimer’s Prevention and Preparedness Task Force. Former California first lady Mari Shriver will spearhead the new task force, which will work to advance Alzheimer’s-related research.

An estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages were living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2018, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. That number includes an estimated 5.5 million people age 65 and older — and about 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.

“I’m excited to see the governor pick Alzheimer’s as an initiative for the whole state,” Renee Rand, a Redding, California-based Interim HealthCare franchise owner. “I think it sends a very important message, and I’m hoping [task force members] are able to provide some extra funding for families for respite.”

Rand is co-owner of three other Interim locations across Calfiornia besides the Redding location.

While aging, home care and support for Alzheimer’s are important throughout the entire state, Rand said she hopes the governor hones in on underserved rural areas in particular.

“That’s my sweet spot as a business owner,” she said. “I hope all this effort doesn’t just go into San Francisco and big-city areas. I hope [officials] look at rural needs and rural areas, where there’s maybe fewer resources for families.”

Newsom was officially sworn into office on Jan. 7.

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