A key component for success with our Senior Friendly Project is national and state support, on a legislative level, of seniors and Senior Caregiving professions. It’s imperative that our leaders convey the importance of providing resources to our growing senior population and foster an attitude that acknowledges the challenges that our seniors face and the value of making appropriate care available in-home and, when needed, in high-quality facilities.
This is such an important issue that our Senators Begich and Murkowski and Congressman Young were supporters of House Concurrent Resolution 59. The House of Representatives passed this resolution September 14, 2009 by a vote of 387-0; the Senate did the same on September 23, 2009 by unanimous consent. Not a single member of Congress voted against the resolution and it inspired action at the state level:
In 2010, Alaska made a great stride with Resolution SCR 13—a resolution that advocates for the goals and ideals of Senior Caregiving and affordability. This resolution was supported by many in-home care and private duty businesses and was passed unanimously and signed by the governor. It was an important first step in ensuring that older adults receive the care that they need now and into the future.
What did the resolution accomplish?
SCR 13 helped to make a fundamental shift in the state’s approach to Senior Caregiving, in that it provides a framework to enable elected officials and the legislature to focus on what is in the best interests of seniors, first. It also recognizes family caregivers and Caregiving as a profession.
The resolution declared that the Alaska State Legislature:
(1) Recognizes Senior Caregiving as a profession;
(2) supports the private home care industry and the efforts of family caregivers statewide by encouraging individuals to provide care to family, friends, and neighbors;
(3) encourages accessible and affordable care for seniors;
(4) will review state policies and support current state programs that address the needs of seniors and senior caregivers;
(5) encourages the Department of Health and Social Services to provide additional education on the effects of aging and the importance and availability of senior caregivers to meet personal needs.
In practical terms, this resolution gives us a starting point for addressing the needs of our growing senior population, by ensuring that we are prepared not just by effectively directing our existing resources, but by developing more resources.
With this framework in place, our community’s senior caregivers can be more accessible and better equipped to provide more care to more seniors. For the Senior Friendly Project, this means that an increasing number of seniors can receive the support of a caregiver, when going out in the community to shop and socialize. Caregivers can help them to identify businesses that they are comfortable with and advocate for their needs. Caregivers can also work to recognize senior friendly establishments or communicate where there are needs for improvement.
As individuals, having an awareness of this legislation can help us to frame conversations with friends, family and colleagues about the importance of creating senior friendly environments and supporting businesses who are senior friendly.
You can start by asking your favorite businesses and colleagues if they know about SCR 13 and the Senior Friendly Project.