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How Hall County’s elderly could benefit from Kemp’s budget proposals
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Milo Gonzalez, a senior client at The Guest House, sits and listens to music, played by Roger Keebaugh, not pictured, in Gainesville on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. - photo by David Barnes

Hall County has the eighth-highest number of elderly residents of any county in the state currently on waiting lists for home- and community-based services, according to the Georgia Council on Aging.

About 6,400 seniors in total across 159 counties are on the waiting lists, but some reprieve may come if new Gov. Brian Kemp’s budget recommendations are approved.

The Georgia Council on Aging has laid out its top priorities for the 2019 state legislative session, and Kemp is already pledging to meet some of these significant policy proposals.

For example, Kemp’s proposed budget includes an additional $2 million for a state program that aims to keep seniors in their home communities through more service provisions.

The Council on Aging said this funding could support 1,000 of the 6,400 elderly Georgians currently on waiting lists for home-based and community-care services – such as bathing and dressing assistance, and transportation to medical appointments.

And another nearly $1 million has been proposed to shorten waiting lists for the Meals on Wheels program for seniors and individuals with disabilities.

“Not only is this the most cost-efficient way of helping our elderly citizens, but it also allows them to stay in their homes where they prefer to be,” Vicki Johnson, chair of the Council on Aging, said in a press release.

According to the Council on Aging, about 34,000 Georgians received home- and community-based services in the 2017 fiscal year, an approximate 10 percent increase from the previous year.

Kemp has also proposed about $340,000 in spending to support the state’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection, which provides education and referrals to an estimated 95,000 elderly residents in need.

And more than $1.3 million is in Kemp’s budget for workers in Georgia’s Adult Protective Service and Public Guardianship program.

The Council on Aging is also pushing for more affordable housing development for seniors and increasing penalties on personal care homes that violate regulations.

Number of elderly on waitlist for home- and community-based services in Georgia:

DeKalb 643

Gwinnett 438

Fulton 380

Clayton 255

Macon-Bibb 196

Chatham 193

Muscogee 177

Hall 157

Source: Georgia Council on Aging (as of Nov. 2018)

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