Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Connecticut Respite Care Program Stops Taking Applicants


Normally, the emails I get from AARP annoy me because they are so alarmist. They tell me I have to contact my state legislator, my U.S. congressman or my senator right away because some program is being cut. The program is usually very worthwhile, such as Connecticut's
Statewide Respite Care Program, which is now closed to new applicants due to budget constraints. 
 
But as a taxpayer, I can also step back and ask myself if this is a legitimate cutback. I mean how many social programs can we fund with taxpayer dollars, especially in this recession? Our state is hurting. It's easy to say, "But this program is really important." Unfortunately, the budget crisis we have means everyone needs to feel pain. 
 
I know the respite care is can be crucial to the person who is giving the care. Other programs that help people age at home instead of being institutionalized are being cut back. Yet, so are programs to improve education. Yet, a better educated population will create a better workforce, increase the economic base and reduce the prison population. So how do we make these hard trade-offs?
 
The biggest argument I can make for keeping respite care open is that it will help keep Alzheimer's patients out of nursing homes and off Medicaid. Paying for a nursing home would be far more expensive than paying for respite care.
 
I hope our state legislators and our governor think through their actions to see what the full economic ramifications are.
 
In any event, there is a waiting list for the respite care. If you want to be on it, please call 1-800-994-9422 and speak to the Care Manager at your local Area Agency on Aging. They will also screen you for other programs for which you may be eligible.
 
 

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