Commentary: Seniors facing many challenges on many levels

Commentary: Seniors facing many challenges on many levels
June 22
01:00 2017

By Dr. Althea Taylor-Jones

The North Carolina Senior Tar Heel Legislature (NCSTHL) convened for the second session of 2017 in Chapel Hill on June 13-14, 2017. Eighty-seven attendees focused on issues that affect our seniors statewide.

The overarching theme was apparent with each speaker. Seniors are an increasing part of our population and there is an obvious decline in supportive services, as well as caregivers.

Suzanne Merrill, Director of the Division of Aging and Adult Services, provided the latest update from the current legislative session. She reported that proposed budgets in the House and Senate need to be reconciled. Therefore, a special committee has been appointed.

Some of the main issues affecting seniors were reported as follows:

*Home and Community Care Block Grant: Governor Cooper proposes recurring funding and adding $3 million to reduce the waiting list; The Legislature proposes restoring $969,549 in non-recurring funds.

*Adult Protective Services and Guardianship: Governor Cooper proposes $4.6 million for expanding staffing and services to guardianship corporations; The House proposes $520,649 and the Senate proposes $771,871 both to expand support for services to guardianship corporations.

*World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was June 15 with the theme of “Building Support for Elders. North Carolina observes World Elder Abuse Awareness between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

*The NC Alzheimer’s Coalition started on March 20, 2017 as an outgrowth of the NC Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias. The major role is to advise and support the continued implementation of the 33 recommendations outlined in the 2016 NC Strategic Plan for Addressing Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias.

*Executive Order 8 “NC interagency Council for Coordinating Homeless Programs” established a 26-member Council to advise the Governor and the Division of Health and Human Services Secretary Cohen, regarding issues related to housing stabilization and resources/programs for individuals and families who are, or at risk of being homeless.

The Federal Government is proposing elimination of the following programs:

*Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)                                                                        

*State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)                                                                                    

*Social Services Block Grant (SSBG)                                                                                                                

*Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)                                                                                    

*Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)

A proposal has been made to reduce Supplemental Nutrition Assistance by $8 Billion and Medicaid by $600 Billion over 10 years.

Mary Edwards provided an update regarding the North Carolina Partnership to Address Adult Abuse. She reported that the Annual Conference held in May, was very productive and that attendance has more than doubled. Several Senior Tar Heel Legislators are individual members of the Partnership. This organization is very timely given the increase in abuse and exploitation of our older adult population. For more information visit the website at

Van Braxton Deputy Commissioner for the Senior Health Insurance Information Program [SHIIP] advised that the Program is recommended for a total cut of all funds (zero funding). Volunteers within the North Carolina SHIIP served a million people and saved $44 million last year.

Linda Shaw of the North Carolina PACE Association (Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), reported that the program has been stalled or frozen in the central part of the state for the last five years. The program has proven to be cost effective. She encouraged attendees/advocates to voice concern regarding expanding the program into others counties/regions.

The North Carolina Senior Tar Heel Legislature promotes citizen involvement and advocacy concerning aging issues before the General Assembly, as well as assesses the legislative needs of older adults by convening a forum modeled after the North Carolina Genres Assembly. 

The next meeting of the NCSTHL will be held Oct. 3-4, in Chapel Hill. During that session, new officers will be elected for the 2018-2019 term.

For additional information, visit us on Facebook at visit our website at

336-904-0300, or

Dr. Althea Taylor-Jones, PhD, is a certified gerontologist. She also is speaker of the North Carolina Senior Tar Heel Legislature. Contact her at

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