Opinion: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

October 31, 2018

Opinion: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

By Gloria Sanchez
Bakersfield Californian
October 31, 2018

In 12 short years, California will be faced with a crisis that if we don’t address very soon will have an enormous impact on both our financial capital as well as our human capital. However, if we act now we have the opportunity to lessen that impact.

That coming crisis is the increase in our senior population, which is growing faster than any other demographic group.

Research by the Public Policy Institute of California indicates that by the year 2030 we will have 4 million more seniors than we do today. And the California Department of Finance projects that by 2060 we will add an additional 4 million.

The problem with such a large increase in seniors is that California is woefully unprepared to deal with all the challenges it will entail.

State and local budgets for healthcare and supportive services will be stretched even thinner than they already are.

There aren’t enough caregivers now to deal with those needing long-term care whether in their homes or in nursing homes and the need will only become more acute.

Many seniors don’t have adequate income or savings to pay for basic needs and that trend shows no signs of changing, meaning as the senior population increases, more will be in need of support from the state.

I am all too familiar with the challenges seniors face and also the challenges government faces in assisting this community.

I have been involved with senior issues for many years.

I currently serve as President of the Triple-A Council of California (TACC), which represents older adult programs around California. TACC assists local agencies in dealing with aging-related issues. I am also a member of the Riverside County Office of Aging Advisory Council, and I serve as Chair of the Menifee Senior Advisory Committee.

When I speak about seniors, I speak from experience.

California can’t wait until this problem becomes a full blown crisis. Especially when considering it’s already a multigenerational issue. However, we can easily avoid the inevitable if we start planning for 2030 and beyond now.

The We Stand With Seniors… Will You? campaign launched earlier this year sounded an alarm for state leaders to swiftly take action. The campaign has been urging the candidates for governor to commit to putting the issue of California’s aging demographic at the top of their agenda, should they win in November.

To their credit, both Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and businessman John Cox pledged to make development of that master plan a high priority, proving that this isn’t a partisan issue, but a California issue.

And the Legislature needs to step up to the plate and put the growth in the senior population at the top of their “to do” list as well.

Those of us who have been involved and worked on these issues stand ready to help.

When I was growing up, my parents used to tell their children that, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

The meaning is pretty clear. If we work hard and prepare for this preventable crisis that pound of cure won’t cost as much and we will be able to manage it proactively instead of reactively.

Gloria Sanchez is the president of the Triple-A Council of California, member of the Riverside County Office of Aging Advisory Council, chairwoman of the Menifee Senior Advisory Committee and candidate for the Menifee City Council in Southwestern Riverside County.

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