Advocates for older Georgians push for state funding

Advocates for older Georgians push for state funding
The Council is fighting for more funds (Source: WALB)
Leaders said the system is already stressed (Source: WALB)
Leaders said the system is already stressed (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Advocates are concerned Governor Nathan Deal's state budget might fall short when it comes to keeping older Georgians safe.

SOWEGA Council on Aging leaders said some systems that help the elderly are already stressed in Georgia.

Over the next 20 years, they add a big part of the state population will be in their golden years.

"He did keep the existing funding for our services which we are most thankful for," said Executive Director of the SOWEGA Council on Aging Debbie Blanton. "However, with the projection of one-in-five Georgians turning 60 by 2040 that's not going to keep up with the demand."

It's a demand Blanton said is already visible. She said at least 500 people in Southwest Georgia are on a waitlist to receive services monitored by the state's Aging and Disability Resource Centers.

"That is the place where people go when they really don't know what they need, but they need help," Blanton said.

Blanton added that an additional total of $14 million is needed to help seniors statewide, including some of Georgia's most vulnerable.

"Elder abuse is on the rise. It's like an iceberg crime. It's just the surface of what we see," Blanton said. "So, we're wanting some legislation to have an elder abuse registry."

They're calling for legislation that strengthens penalties for abusers, along with laws that would create a coalition to increase affordable assisted living facilities.

"All Georgians deserve to live with dignity and respect," Blanton said. "All we're saying is don't forget our older people and people with disabilities."

To make sure they don't, Blanton and others from the Coalition of Advocates for Georgia's Elderly said, in just a couple of weeks, they will be at the state capitol asking legislators, in person, to transfer funds, make laws and protect Georgia's aging population.

Blanton said the state budget was increased last year to help Georgia's aging population. She said that she's optimistic lawmakers will provide the funds requested again this year.

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