Senior News Briefs

June 10, 2024 at 2:56 p.m.
New report shows that Washington is ranked 7th in the nation when looking at the well-being of older adults
New report shows that Washington is ranked 7th in the nation when looking at the well-being of older adults

Report: WA ranks in top 10 for older Americans' well-being

...by Eric Tegethoff, Washington News Service

A new report looks at the well-being of older Americans.

The America's Health Ranking Senior Report shows a mixed bag for the living conditions of older adults, but Washington ranks seventh in the report.

Susan Engels, Unit on Aging office chief for the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, said the state is succeeding for a number of reasons, including the expansion of its home delivered meals program during the pandemic.

"Some folks, that's their best meal of the day," Engels pointed out. "We did a lot of pivoting to get home delivered meals expanded to where anyone could access them, and it grew. We started spending three times the funding, and COVID funding came and we were able to do it."

Engels noted with funding from the pandemic ending, the state has stepped up to continue funding the program. The report also showed internet access has increased nationwide for older adults and early deaths decreased 8% between 2021 and 2022, although they did not dip below pre-pandemic levels.

Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer and executive vice president of UnitedHealthcare Employer and Individual, said there were other troubling signs for the well-being of older adults.

"We see more seniors living with depression and frequent mental distress," Randall reported. "We see some challenges in some economic majors like poverty and worsening housing cost burden and more seniors saying that they have food insecurity, that they're worried about getting access to food."

The report found the poverty rate increased 6% between 2021 and 2022. Food insecurity increased 8% between 2020 and 2021, rising for the first time since it peaked in 2014.


EARLIER SENIOR NEWS BRIEFS:

  • PSE to Resume Shutting Off Power for Residents Behind on Payments, Including Households with Vulnerable Seniors. Tens of thousands of vulnerable and low-income households, previously protected from utility disconnections during and after the pandemic, are now at risk of losing access to power and heat. "Research highlights the extreme consequences disconnections have on vulnerable and low-income customers, including not being able to afford other basic necessities like food and medicine or even being evicted from rental properties,” said Yochi Zakai, an attorney representing WSCAP. The Commission granted PSE’s request to break its disconnection protection agreement despite being presented with this research. “Instead of resorting to punishing customers struggling to afford their bills, we need utilities to implement models that increase communications with residential customers behind on payments to help them take advantage of available financial assistance programs or get them into payment and budget plans," said Shaylee Stokes, director of The Energy Project, a program of WSCAP.

 

  • Assisted Living Workers at WA Facility Call for Higher Wages. Workers for an assisted living facility are calling for higher wages in their union contract negotiations. Aegis Living, a Seattle-based company, has been in negotiations with Service Employees International Union - Local 775 - since March 2023. Workers say higher pay would help with retention. SEIU 775 says Aegis Living has increased fees for residents, but that money has not made its way to workers. Chetty said some of his colleagues are leaving for minimum wage jobs because the pay is similar, and the work is less stressful. --Washington News Service




  • AARP Seeks Nominees for Washington State Exceptional Volunteer Award: The award honors people ages 50+ who are sharing their time, talent, experience and skills to enrich the lives of community members. --read full story at the following link: AARP Seeks Nominees for Exceptional Volunteer Award


A new report looks at the well-being of older Americans.


The America's Health Ranking Senior Report shows a mixed bag for the living conditions of older adults, but Washington ranks seventh in the report.


Susan Engels, Unit on Aging office chief for the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, said the state is succeeding for a number of reasons, including the expansion of its home delivered meals program during the pandemic.


"Some folks, that's their best meal of the day," Engels pointed out. "We did a lot of pivoting to get home delivered meals expanded to where anyone could access them, and it grew. We started spending three times the funding, and COVID funding came and we were able to do it."


Engels noted with funding from the pandemic ending, the state has stepped up to continue funding the program. The report also showed internet access has increased nationwide for older adults and early deaths decreased 8% between 2021 and 2022, although they did not dip below pre-pandemic levels.


Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer and executive vice president of UnitedHealthcare Employer and Individual, said there were other troubling signs for the well-being of older adults.


"We see more seniors living with depression and frequent mental distress," Randall reported. "We see some challenges in some economic majors like poverty and worsening housing cost burden and more seniors saying that they have food insecurity, that they're worried about getting access to food."


The report found the poverty rate increased 6% between 2021 and 2022. Food insecurity increased 8% between 2020 and 2021, rising for the first time since it peaked in 2014.


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