An update on the Tar Heel Senior Legislature

N.C. Senior Tarheel Legislature convenes in 2018

An update on the Tar Heel Senior Legislature
April 25
05:05 2019

The North Carolina Senior Tar Heel Legislature promotes citizen involvement and advocacy concerning aging issues before the General Assembly. Additionally, the needs of older adults are addressed by convening a forum modeled after the North Carolina General Assembly.

The North Carolina Senior Tar Heel Legislature (STHL) convened its first session of 2019 at the Rural Center in Raleigh, North Carolina on March 12-13. The all-embracing theme, “advocating for seasoned citizens”, was apparent with each speaker. Seniors are an increasing part of our population, particularly as the fastest growing segment of the population is those age 85 years of age and older. Additionally, there is an obvious decline in services and supports, as well as caregivers.

Joyce Massey-Smith, Director, Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) gave an update of the Division. She recognized Dorothy Crawford, a charter member from Haywood County, who will be 101 years of age in April. She informed the group regarding the Dorothy R. Crawford Award established this year in Ms. Crawford’s honor. Among the many awards established, this is the first award named for a woman. The Director also shared information about Adult Protective Services (APS) and stated that county departments of social services received 30,000 complaints this past year, which is a significant increase since last year.

The Immediate Past Speaker, Dr. Althea Taylor-Jones, was presented the Andrus Award, the most prestigious award given by AARP, for Community Service. The award was presented by Charmaine Fuller-Cooper, Associate State Director, NC AARP. Charmaine Fuller-Cooper spoke to the group with emphasis on the very profound statement, “One person can make a difference.” She shared that there are 1.3 million unpaid caregivers in North Carolina. AARP is supporting them with the North Carolina Caregivers Act (House Bill 269/Senate Bill 161) with primary focus on, the three I’s: 1) IDENTIFY caregivers at hospital admissions; 2) INFORM caregivers; and 3) INSTRUCT caregivers upon discharge. AARP has also partnered with the United Way to provide a means of helping people find healthcare in rural areas by establishing, “DIAL 211.”

Roger Manus, Chair of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Aging, gave a thought-provoking presentation on advocacy. Manus stated, “The advocate must recognize that they are a part of something bigger than themselves. We are resources of the Older Americans Act (OAA), a part of a larger movement that will continue long after we are gone. We devote ourselves to something we will never see the conclusion of in this lifetime.”

On Wednesday, March 13, members met with their legislators at the General Assembly and advocated for the 2019 Legislative Priorities listed below:

Increase funding for North Carolina Home and Community Care Block Grant.

*Maintain and Increase Funding for Senior Centers.

*Increase funding for Project CARE (Caregiver Alternatives to Running on Empty).

*Strengthen and Fund North Carolina’s Adult Protective Services Program (APS).

*Increase Staff-to-Patient Ratios in Nursing Homes.

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