Bill to draft 'Aging in Community' plan becomes law

STATE HOUSE – The state will work on a plan identifying ways to help Rhode Islanders stay in their homes as they age, under a new law sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin and Rep. Christopher R. Blazejewski.

The legislation (2014-S 2215A, 2014-H 7361A), passed by the General Assembly in its final days of session and signed by the governor this week, directs the state Long Term Care Coordinating Council to create an "aging in community" subcommittee with the purpose of identifying the necessary infrastructure and program improvements in services, housing and transportation to assist the elderly in safely remaining at home and in community settings. The plan is to include an inventory of available services, identification of service and program gaps and resource needs.

"Most people generally prefer the comfort, freedom and privacy of living at home or with family to living in a long-term care facility when the time comes that they need assistance. Community supports are also significantly less expensive than living in a nursing facility. But they aren't always available, accessible or enough for all citizens who would benefit from them, and often they aren't funded well enough to reach everyone who needs them. We want to find out where the improvements need to be made to ensure that those who prefer to live at home are able if it is at all possible," said Senator Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence).

Said Representative Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence), "Evaluating the services we already have and developing a plan to make them more readily available to those who need them will make safe, comfortable community living possible for more Rhode Islanders as they age. Better coordination and wider availability of community supports for the elderly will not only help people to live the way they like, but will also reduce the overall cost of care, so they are great investments."

The state Planning Office estimates the number of Rhode Islanders 65 and older will grow from 152,000 in 2010 to 189,000 in 2020 and to 248,000 by 2030. The 2010 U.S. Census established that Rhode Island had the highest percentage among the 50 states of people 85 and older.

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2457