MARYSVILLE, Wash. - Budget cuts mandated by the state legislature
officially go into effect this week, and some Washington families will
be scrambling to figure out what to do with parents or grandparents who
have been in Adult Day Health programs. Around the state, eight centers
providing these programs are closing, all victims of the budget
Adult Day Health centers are places where senior citizens with chronic
medical conditions get rehabilitation services. They also offer seniors
opportunities for socializing and provide a break for their caregivers.
Nora Gibson runs ElderHealth Northwest. She says the legislature seems
to have thought families would be able to take up the slack.
"They're predicting that no one will move into a skilled nursing
facility, even though this cut is happening - and that's not a good
bet. I think families will try really, really hard, but this is kind of
like a three-legged stool: If you pull one leg out, it gets wobbly."
The Adult Day Health budget was cut by 70 percent. As a result,
Gibson's company is closing centers in Marysville and Seattle, which
means laying off 40 employees. Gibson says the lawmakers' decision has
prompted many to assume the state is putting senior citizens at the
bottom of its priority list.
"Elders took really big hits, and service providers for elders and
disabled people took cuts in rates. There have been cuts in hours for
people who are receiving home care services, and Adult Day Health was
cut significantly. It makes you wonder - what are they thinking?"
She contends that cutting community and home-care services will cost
the state more eventually, as seniors run out of choices and end up in
nursing homes, where the state picks up a much higher tab.