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Martin Dems Get An Inside Look At Aging In America

May 10, 2009

By Jackie Williams

Stuart, FL: Al Malley, State of Florida Long-Term Care Ombudsman, talks with Martin County Democrats about issues surrounding long-term care for Florida’s elder population.

Martin Dems Get An Inside Look At Aging In AmericaThirty five million Americans are over age 60. By 2030 twenty percent of Americans will be over age 65. In today's America 72,000 people are over age 100 and by 2030 that number will reach 381,000.

Those are just a few of the facts about the "age of Americans" that Martin County Democrats learned from Al Malley, State of Florida Long-Term Care Ombudsman, at this month's Democratic Club meeting.

"Although our society is aging, we are still a youth oriented society," Malley said. "We have a basic bias against old age. Our society remains closed to viewing aging as a virtue. We tend to see it as a decline, and some believe elders are a drain on society."

Malley refuted that claim with some statistics often ignored.

"Fifty two percent of the purchases in Florida are made by people over 50," Malley said. "People over 50 hold one in five jobs in the state, and they generate $4.00 in state revenue for every $3.00 that they use in government services."

Malley knows these statistics by heart because every day in his volunteer job as a long-term care ombudsman he works with older people and the institutions that care for them. Malley spends his days inspecting nursing homes and long-term care facilities, handling patient complaints, and prepares case studies for authorities.

"Our inspections are designed to make sure long- term care facilities are in compliance with both federal and state laws," Malley said. "The problem is that nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are profit centers and to increase profits they can do all the things that other businesses do. They can adjust staff schedules to keep employee costs low. Or they can cut back in the food service area. It's our inspections that ensure these kinds of things don't happen, or at least, don't happen often."