It’s no secret that the percentage of the U.S. population over the age of 65 is starting to skyrocket. Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) started turning 65 in 2011, and the U.S. Census Bureau projects that there will be more than 70 million people aged 65 or older by 2030 – comprising almost 20 percent of the U.S. population – and nearly 20 million people aged 80 or older.
The demands on the elder-care system will grow in line with the aging population; the National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that more than 40 percent of people over the age of 65 will enter a nursing home before they die.
Now, a number of legislative bodies are turning their attention to an important issue: using electronic monitoring to secure the safety of older Americans who will be living in long-term care facilities, particularly through use of video monitoring in public areas of those facilities.
ESA Director of Government Relations John Chwat said the issue has been a priority for the association for a number of years, and the timing for action now appears to be favorable.
"There have been a whole host of state bills on the issue,” Chwat said. "I haven’t seen as many state bills in one period as there has been in 2012 and 2013. This seems to be an issue that’s bubbling up from the state level, and if states are starting to pass legislation like this, that means they’re starting to recognize that it’s something that needs to be addressed.”
At the federal level, Chwat said, ESA has scheduled a number of meetings with staff members from the 19 senators on the Senate Select Committee on Aging to discuss three priorities:
- Recommending a hearing sometime within the next year that would highlight the issue of preventing abuse in elder care facilities.
- Urging the Department of Health and Human Services to examine the impact of programs in a number of states that allow the use of video monitoring, including Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Virginia, and possibly create pilot programs for other states where there are large populations of elderly Americans.
- Crafting a bill that would allow the use of video monitoring in elder-care facilities on a nationwide basis, similar to the programs currently in place in those states.
ESA also has reached out to the Security Industry Association (SIA) for its support on the issue, Chwat said. "SIA has indicated that they have a great deal of interest in the issue from a government relations standpoint,” he said. "I’m very hopeful they’ll embrace the project and work with us.”