MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Just as the Tennessee legislature was ending its 2022 session last week, another state agency was releasing an important report on a topic that went virtually unnoticed by lawmakers: caring for senior citizens.
The state comptroller’s report concluded that growth in the number of Tennesseans over age 60 will significantly overwhelm services designed to assist this group. The number of residents 60 and over is approaching two million and is expected to grow by 30% over the next 20 years. The number of those age 80 and above also is expected to double by 2042.
But this is about more than just numbers. These are people, from Memphis to Bristol, and they will be in need of services that for many of them likely will not be there.
So what’s the solution? Simple. Programs that allow seniors to live independently in their own homes and have access to in-home services must be expanded, as will nursing home care.
The thing is, all of this cost money – money that must be allocated by the state legislature. Whether our current group of lawmakers will act on this issue is doubtful. They have not shown much interest in offering support for the elderly – particularly those of lesser means.
But this issue is not going away. And we can only hope the next general assembly does not put the comptroller’s report on a shelf only to collect dust.