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Scorecard: Much Improvement Needed in Caring for Aging Hoosiers

JC Munt/morguefile

Indiana has seen efforts in recent years to improve the long-term care needs of older Hoosiers, but the findings of a new analysis suggest a lot more could be done.

AARP released a national scorecard by state on long-term services available for seniors and their families, and state legislative director Ambre Marr said Indiana ranks 47th overall.

"This scorecard gives us a snapshot of how well Indiana serves our older residents, those with disabilities and family caregivers," she said. "It shows us that we must sharpen our focus to better assist hard-working Hoosiers."

Kristin LaEace, chief executive of the Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging, said one positive development not included in the report is the state's new pilot of the Community Living Program, which uses preventive measures to help keep older residents in their homes as long as possible.

"Because the data is a little older, that's not necessarily reflective of the current situation in Indiana," she said. "So, we are very proud of our state for the efforts it's taken for making the commitment that people are going to have the choice to have home and community-based services rather than either do without or have to go to a nursing home."

The scorecard ranked Indiana fifth for its resource centers that connect older adults and people with disabilities with needed supports, she said.

Marr said it's critical to address long-term care now, because in 12 years the leading edge of the "baby boom" generation will enter its 80s, placing new demands on a still-imperfect system.

"So further, this generation will have far fewer potential family caregivers to provide unpaid help," she said, "which makes it important for us that this topic continues to be discussed as we move forward, to see what else Indiana can do."

In particular, Marr said, the state needs to examine ways to improve support for family caregivers. This year, AARP supported House Bill 1230, legislation which would have created a tax credit for family caregivers, but it didn't receive a hearing. Marr said she is hopeful it will be revisited in the future, adding that family caregivers often struggle financially as they help their loved ones live independently at home.