I should hope that when I am an old man that I get to live out all the clichés: playing chess in the park, eating butterscotch pudding, always having hard candy in a bowl, and yelling at whippersnappers to get off my lawn, but with the way things are going in government, I’m not sure there will be a place for the elderly.
It’s true that a portion of the elderly are fit, energetic, and live a quick and adventurous life of their own accord. However, not everyone is blessed with the same medical health, financial stability, or physicality required for this lifestyle. For this there is adult day care centers which help look after the elderly who can’t necessarily take care of themselves or need someone to talk to and help deal with issues both medical and emotional.
Since Jerry Brown became governor, he has put in place reports of budget cuts which will wipe out this service as well as much more. Brown intends to cut out what according to the state Department of Finance is a $176 million a year program in an effort to get rid of a whopping $25.4 billion deficit in California. According to Brown’s proposal, these cuts will take $1.7 billion from the state’s health care program, $1 billion from the state’s universities, as well as cutting out the Multipurpose Senior Service Program which helps care for elderly who wish to stay in communities but can’t care for themselves.
Really? Are we so desperate to close the deficit that these are the types of programs we’re willing to take away from? Not only $1 billion subtraction from education, which I would argue is what needs the least cuts and is an important factor to actually solving the budget crisis, but also it seems that the elderly are getting the short end of the stick on this one. The elderly easily become forgotten in the wake of massive budget cuts, and there’s hardly anyone out there to defend them or their rights.
Adult day care serves around 37,000 Americans every year at 310 licensed locations, and helps with everything from severe depression, to merely allowing seniors to socialize with people their own age. There is even a study that says cutting this program will actually cost the state over 50 million additional dollars in the shape of increased medical costs, and the loss of workforce efficiency because people will have to stay home to take care of their loved ones who can’t look after themselves.
I do see the need for budget cuts; sure we need to get rid of some things to get out of a deficit. But at some point there has to be a line where we actually look at more than financial gain from programs. There’s a large emotional aspect to programs such as these. Perhaps it’s not the most important thing on the U.S. agenda but all these little things that we cut add up and one day we’ll look over our shoulder and say “Hey, what happened to California?”