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Independence at Risk: Older Californians with Disabilities Struggle to Remain at Home as Public Supports Shrink

December 7, 2011

Policy Brief

Authors: Kathryn G. Kietzman, PhD, MSW, Jacqueline Torres, MPH, MA, Steven P. Wallace, PhD

This policy brief presents findings from a yearlong study that closely followed a small but typical set of older Californians with disabilities who depend on fragile arrangements of paid public programs and unpaid help to live safely and independently at home. Many of these older adults have physical and mental health needs that can rise or fall with little warning; most are struggling with increasing disability as they age. In spite of these challenges, most display resilience and fortitude, and all share a common determination to maintain their independence at almost any cost.

Declines in health status and other personal circumstances among aging Californians have been exacerbated by reductions in public support, and will be made even worse by significant additional cuts that are pending. Policy recommendations include consolidating long-term care programs and enhancing support for caregivers.
This study was produced with support from The SCAN Foundation.


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