AARP Members Stress Importance of Aging in Place

BALTIMORE — More than eight in 10 of AARP's 800,000 Maryland members said in a recent survey that receiving long-term care services in a home- and community-based setting was extremely or very important; nearly nine in 10 said having high quality doctors and specialists in the community was also important.

The results, highlighted in a 2006 Home and Community-Based Services newsletter, were reported in a survey of Maryland members on 2006 legislative priorities. The full survey and newsletter are available at http://www.aarp.org/md.

"These findings illustrate that there is both an unmet need and a built-in market for greater home- and community-based services in our communities," said Joseph DeMattos Jr., AARP Maryland state director.

"Our members not only ranked health care services important, they rated high other aspects of being able to age in place in their community," he added. "They want safe environments, affordable costs of living and housing, and for AARP to make these issues a reality for themselves and their community at large."

According to the survey, six in 10 members thought it should also be a top or high priority for AARP to work with legislators in expanding funding for home modifications that allow people to stay in their homes. More than 620,000 of AARP's Maryland members are homeowners.

For the 2006 legislative session, AARP worked with legislators to help sponsor House Bill 1498, the Income Tax Credit for Aging-In-Place Home Modifications bill. The bill will provide an income tax credit up to $1,000 a year to a homeowner who modifies his home by installing grab bars, no-step entrances or lever door handles; raises the height of light switches and electrical outlets 27-44 inches off the floor; or creates wider interior passage doors.

"These modifications are prudent investments for a fairly healthy homeowner looking to prevent or delay entrance into an assisted living or nursing home," DeMattos said.

"They will reap benefits today through the income tax credit, and eventually pay for themselves through longer, safer living in the most frequently preferred environment — one's home."

To date, AARP has supported bills that address property tax credits (both Gov. Ehrlich's HB313 and House Speaker Busch's HB5); increase the number of participants and funding for the management of the Older Adults Waiver; and broaden the assistance offered to lower income older adults participating in the Senior Prescription Drug Assistance program, SB283.

The 2005 AARP Maryland Legislative Issues Survey was conducted October through November 2005 by AARP's Knowledge Management division. A statewide sample of 2,000 AARP Maryland members was contacted; 50 percent of the surveys were returned by the cutoff date for analysis. The survey has a sampling error of plus or minus 3.2 percent.

This article originally appeared in the March 2006 issue of HME Business.

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