A growing number of older Iowans are asking for public help to cover the costs of services needed to stay in their homes. The Iowa Department on Aging is reporting a 27 percent increase over the last year in seniors applying for community support services through the agency. Division Administrator Joel Wolf says the economic downturn and Iowa’s growing elderly population are likely behind the increase.
“We are hearing from more folks who traditionally would have considered themselves middle class and are slowly slipping into poverty,” Wolf said. “It’s somewhat anecdotal at this point, but we are hearing from our agencies and seniors themselves that they are having a fair amount of stress.” Wolf says many seniors have seen their retirement funds shrink in value and are struggling to keep up with increases in property taxes and medical expenses.
“We’re seeing caregivers – who are having to work more or work a couple of part-time jobs – who may not be able to provide services that they would otherwise be providing,” Wolf said. “Iowa itself, there are more folks who are getting older. We’re an aging state.” Iowans 60 and older can apply for services such as home-delivered meals, transportation, caregiver support and mental health counseling. The programs are funded largely through the federal Older Americans Act.