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Pennsylvania Elderly Hit Tangled System

As Governor Tom Corbett gets ready to unveil a budget on February 7th, an advocacy group is calling for legislators to streamline the delivery of services to the elderly.

LeadingAge PA says Pennsylvania requires its seniors to go through a maze of agencies to receive the services they're looking for and wants government officials to overhaul how things are done as part of the next budget process.

Ruthanne Bentley is chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Council on Aging's southwest region. The council advises the governor on the delivery of services to the elderly. She says Pennsylvania's system is cumbersome due to the large number of agencies taking care of the elderly.

She said as more Baby Boomers retire they are affecting how they receive care. "Any agency or group that's dealing with aging has more and more people and less and less money, or ability to raise money," said Bentley. "The economy, as it is for everybody else, is tight, so it's difficult to serve and provide the kind of service that agencies or groups would like to do."

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, Pennsylvanians 65 and older are expected to surge in the next 20 years, from 15 percent of the population in 2010 to 23 percent by 2030.

Bentley said that while many elderly need care and socialization, there are choices other than a nursing home. "If they're going to downsize, what are their options? Where can they go? And there are a number of places besides their home or besides a nursing home, there's lots in-between," said Bentley. "Whether it be what's called a CCRC, which is a Continuing Care Residential Community, or assisted living or a senior high-rise, there is a lot of housing in-between."

Several agencies have a hand in caring for the elderly including the Department of Public Welfare, the Department of Aging, and the Pennsylvania Lottery Bureau.