Working to improve the
quality of life for older Georgians through public policy
Senior Week 2020 was a Huge Success!!!
Over 600 people come to the Capitol during Senior Week to advocate on behalf of themselves and seniors across the state. We all wore our green scarves with pride and spread the word about the needs of elders in Georgia. Even though the legislature was not in session, seniors were able to connect with many legislators. We are thankful to the legislators who stopped by the Floyd Ballroom to speak with the seniors and to show their support for the CO-AGE priority issues.
GCOA and CO-AGE would also like to give a special thanks to our generous sponsors who helped to make the event possible.
Please enjoy the photo gallery from this year!
CO-AGE Priority Issue - Behavioral Health and Housing
The Atlanta Regional Commission supports healthy living and aging through a wide range of services such as care management, transportation, meal delivery, legal assistance and wellness programs. One of their spotlight programs is a Behavioral Health and Housing project. Individuals with behavioral health issues, who live in HUD subsidized senior living communities, sometimes face challenges that can lead to homelessness. In order to break this cycle and protect these individuals, the ARC and local housing providers have teamed up to provide behavioral health coaches who are focused on a "whole person" approach that builds trust and produces positive outcomes. The project has a 98% success rate in avoiding evictions and has saved as much as $4900 for housing providers per client by avoiding eviction.
GCOA made Behavioral Health and Housing a budget priority for the 2020 legislative session. We are determined to get the funding needed to support this project and to expand it to other parts of the state. Senator Jack Hill stated his support of the issue in his notes from the Senate report on "If the state had money, where should it go?" stating "With an increasing demographic of older adults in the coming years, and with the additional needs in the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), housing supports are an area of need."
GCOA is hopeful that legislators will see the importance of this project and will put their support behind it. We applaud ARC for seeing a need and developing a successful project to address it. GCOA will keep you updated on the progress of this budget priority issue at GCOA.org.
“CO-AGE makes Georgia a better place for all of us to age. Older adults and folks passionate about aging issues come together to recommend policies to solve real-life problems. We vote on the most important issues, then all work together on those priorities. CO-AGE is an inspiring, effective and democratic (small “d”!) group of advocates.”
Becky Kurtz - Managing Director, Aging and Independent Services & Director, ARC
Advocates hail governor for helping elderly
Support services survive state budget cuts
Aging advocates are praising Gov. Brian Kemp for sparing Georgia’s seniors from deep budget cuts for support services.
Kemp on Thursday unveiled a proposed state budget for the current year and next year that retains new funding for Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) and Meals on Wheels, programs that allow older Georgians to maintain their independence and age in place.
“At a time when state departments are being asked to cut their budgets, we are so appreciative that Gov. Kemp is keeping support for seniors as a top priority,” Vicki Vaughn Johnson, chair of the Georgia Council on Aging, said. “Many seniors badly need these options, which have been shown to be far and away the most cost-effective way to help them age in place.”
Last year, the Governor and lawmakers added $2 million to address an HCBS waiting list of 7,000 and added $1.4 million to reduce a waiting list for the popular Meals-on-Wheels program. But over half of that money was on the chopping block because of state budget cuts.
Vicki V. Johnson - CO-AGE Chair
The Georgia Council on Aging and the 1,000-plus member Coalition of Advocates for Georgia's Elderly (CO-AGE) are making funding for HCBS and financing of a Behavior Health and Housing program to help prevent eviction of older adults from low-income housing their top budget priorities for the current legislative session.
Both budget priorities aim to keep adults from having to obtain more expensive levels of care unnecessarily as they age.
The costs to provide home and community-based care is about one-tenth of the state’s cost of nursing home care, Johnson said.
CO-AGE has other 2020 legislative priorities including:
Support for House Bill 511, a transportation bill that would pull together resources to help rural Georgians with mobility needs, including seniors who no longer drive.
Support for affordable Senior Living housing options.
Support for increased fines and sanctions for Personal Care Home licensure and code violations, and also greater transparency by the state in reporting these violations.
Atlanta Journal Constitution reporters spent nearly a year looking into the quality of care provided by some of Georgia's assisted living communities and personal care homes. What they discovered helps to shed light on the importance of GCOA's 2020 priority to strengthen personal care homes and assisted living communities requirements in Georgia. See below for links to stories, editorials, and GCOA responses.
October CO-AGE Meeting
The October CO-AGE meeting, held at the Lanier Charter Career Academy on October 24th in Gainesville, Georgia was a huge success. Sen. Butch Miller kicked off the meeting expressing his support for CO-AGE and our continued advocacy efforts.
Additional speakers included: Abby Cox (Director of the Division of Aging Services), Council Member Sharise Thurman (Heartis Suwanee Senior Living), Becky Kurtz (Atlanta Regional Commission), Melanie McNeil (State Long-Term Care Ombudsman), MaryLea Boatwright Quinn (Alzheimer's Association - Georgia Chapter), and Eve Anthony (Athens Community Council on Aging). The 2020 CO-AGE priorities were discussed along with how to get involved in advocating for Georgia seniors.
July CO-AGE Meeting
The Georgia Council on Aging held the July CO-AGE Meeting in Macon, GA on July 11 at the Methodist Home for Children and Youth. Over 120 advocates attended to hear presentations on nine potential CO-AGE issues for 2020. GCOA also honored their Legislator of the Year, Rep John LaHood (R-Valdosta). There were many familiar faces and plenty of new participants!
Stay informed as we keep you up-to-date on important state government events and GCOA news.
GCOA in Action
Throughout the year, GCOA advocates to bring awareness to issues affecting older Georgians. GCOA established the Coalition of Advocates for Georgia's Elderly (CO-AGE) to be a forum through which the concerns of older Georgian's are identified and addressed. By joining CO-AGE, you can be a part of the vehicle for bringing broad-based input on aging issues from across the state.
In the News
January 24, 2020
Elder Abuse Watch
January 24, 2020
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