Many older people among us have a rough time of it in Nevada. No doubt, conditions vary considerably depending upon a particular person’s amount of wealth, health, and family support.
But we want to get a better picture of what problems older Nevadans face, and the services that are available – or not available.
Jeff Duncan is the head of the support services unit of the Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division. He told KNPR's State of Nevada that one of the biggest problems for senior and elderly people in Nevada is they don't know where to go to access services.
Barry Gold is the director of government relations for AARP Nevada. He agreed that people often don't how to find help.
“People don’t know where to look," he said, "They don’t know what to look for. They don’t know what’s available."
Food was an example of that problem. Many seniors need help to afford nutritious food or they need help preparing food, but they don't often sign up for services like food stamps or food delivery services like Meals on Wheels.
Gold said a third of Nevada seniors rely solely on Social Security, which is about $1,200 to $1,300 a month.
“People need more than just Social Security," he said.
Two problems unique to Nevada's aging population is the growth of the senior population in the state and the lack of family. Gold said many people move here from some place else. When they need help, their family isn't here but is across the country.
Both Gold and Duncan agree that the state needs to provide more money for services for older adults.
"It's a matter of the state deciding that older adults are a priority," Gold said, "Other populations have had their chance. We've funded education. We funded services for kids. It's time to look at our seniors"
Duncan encourages people who need those services or their caregivers to talk to the legislators about what they need.
"We need to hear from those individuals that need those services," he said, "They need to talk to their elected officials and be the voice for us in the Legislature"
Barry Gold, director of government relations, AARP/Nevada; Jeff Duncan, chief of the Support Services Unit for the Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division/Nevada Department of Health and Human Services
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