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Washington, DC – The nation’s leading providers in senior living are challenging each presidential candidate to address the needs of aging Americans in advance of the primary election in Florida, the state with the nation’s largest percentage of seniors.
 
More than 40 million Americans will be over 65 years old by 2010 making the next U.S. President’s positions on aging and healthcare a growing concern to all Americans.  The Assisted Living Federation of America, the nation’s leading trade association for professionally managed assisted living providers,  is demanding answers from each presidential candidate on how he or she intends to best to meet the needs of aging Americans.  

Assisted living is the fastest growing long term care option for seniors in the United States.  More than 36,000 communities care for more than one million seniors who need help in the activities of daily life to remain independent.

ALFA is asking each candidate for President of the United States—regardless of political party—to address the concerns our nation’s aging population have each day about their quality of care and quality of life. With 80 percent of seniors suffering from at least one chronic health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, hypertension or heart disease, and 50 percent of seniors suffering from two or more conditions,   America’s seniors are growing more dependent on the support of home health care workers or long term care communities that can provide assistance in the activities of daily life or around-the-clock nursing home care. With the healthcare system already stretched almost to the breaking point because of high costs and an acute shortage of trained nurses, these industry leaders say the next U.S. President must be ready to implement workable realistic solutions.

Coalition members are asking the candidates: If you were President of the United States how would you:
•    ensure our long term care system meets the health needs of millions of frail seniors while guaranteeing resident choice?
•    solve the nursing shortage?
•    encourage recruitment and training of the next generation of caregivers?
•    help families finance long term care?
•    encourage Americans to take responsibility for their personal retirement and health care needs?
•    provide incentives to support long term care so that the profession can meet the future needs of our nation?

Representing assisted living caregivers on the front lines who care for our aging and disabled citizens, ALFA members say that long term care needs to be at the top of the 2008 presidential campaign agenda. ALFA is sending letters to each candidate and encouraging its members to pose these and other questions to the candidates at public forums throughout the 2008 campaign.

“Vice President Hubert Humphrey once said that a moral test of a government is how it treats those in the twilight of life,” said Richard Grimes, president of ALFA.  “This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue; it is an American issue. Those who want to lead this country must be prepared to deal with the challenge of caring for our senior citizens.”
 
“Every day American families grapple with the challenge of providing a safe and healthy environment for aging relatives,” said Grimes. “Many are shocked to discover Medicare will not pay for long term care and Medicaid waivers for assisted living for the poor are sharply limited. Our presidential candidates must help find practical answers to this looming national problem. We care for vulnerable and frail seniors every day and we know first hand how difficult it can be. Most families cannot handle these problems alone. Our leaders must help craft answers to give our seniors and their families the helping hand they need and deserve.”

The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA, www.alfa.org) represents companies operating professionally managed assisted living communities for seniors.  ALFA advocates choice for seniors, quality of care, and accessibility and portability of long term care for all Americans.  ALFA’s efforts “raise the bar” for operational excellence among its member companies. 
 

NOTES:
•    4.3 million boomers born in 1957 (biggest boom year);
•    40 million over 65 by 2010 [http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/usinterimproj/natprojtab02a.xls]

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