Connecticut governor signs aging-in-place bill into law

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont signed a bill into law on Tuesday that aims to improve the prospects for seniors who seek to age in place in their current homes.

The law, which was supported by senior advocacy organization AARP, creates a state registry of home care providers to promote awareness and accessibility for home-based care. It also requires home health care and aide agencies, hospice agencies and homemaker-companion agencies to submit information about their employees to the registry, and it adds more avenues to publicly accessible information for aging-in-place programs and more.

State Sen. Kevin Kelly (R), former co-chair of the legislature’s aging committee and a practicing elder law attorney, lauded the signing. He was one of 81 total co-sponsors, including eight of his fellow senators.

“Whenever I ask seniors the question, ‘Does anyone want to go to a nursing home?’, the answer I almost always get is a resounding ‘no,’” Kelly said in a statement. “So, if people don’t want to enter nursing homes, and it’s less expensive to stay home, and there are better health outcomes from staying home, we must pass policies which help seniors age in place. This new law is a major step forward.

“This is what our seniors would expect us to do. I thank the governor, members of the Aging Committee and my legislative colleagues for getting this bill to the finish line and making sure the voices of seniors are heard.”

The bill received approval from the legislature at the end of April. It requires the agencies that employ home health aides and other professionals to provide more well-rounded training and incident responses to issues like harassment as the state aims to ease the process for aging in place among its older residents.

The state has an estimated 800,000 residents that are at least 60 years old. The law will include a “regulatory presumption” of Medicaid eligibility for senior residents. It also will expand federal funding for people choosing to remain in their homes while needing some outside assistance, such as a home health aide. Kelly said he has championed this presumption.

Data from multiple surveys and studies indicates that aging in place is a dominant preference for older Americans when compared to the prospect of dedicated assisted living facilities and/or nursing homes.

More Americans are even “splurging” on home modifications that would make aging in place easier, including handrails, accessible bathrooms and wider doorways to accommodate wheelchairs.

Connecticut has made other investments into senior welfare that includes aging in place, including a program that pays caregivers living with loved ones who require special attention. The program is seeing a rise in demand.

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