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AARP state director says Covid should be spring board for policy

DES MOINES — AARP state director Brad Anderson says the pandemic should prompt public officials to rethink policies that impact older Iowans.

“There’s no doubt that the virus has shined a bright light on the shortcomings of nursing homes and the entire industry,” he says. “We all know now that nursing homes are severely understaffed and that direct care workers are severely underpaid.”

Anderson says home-based care is a better model for older Iowans.

“Home-based care is what most Iowans want. They want to age in place. They want to be at home and it is a safer option than two beds per room and that is a face,” Anderson says, “and so I think one of the things we need to do after all is said and done after we get this virus under control is we need to look at the whole industry and then use Covid as a spring board to rethink long-term care in Iowa.”

By 2030, the number of Iowans over the age of 85 is projected to grow by 36 percent. Anderson says now is the time to start talking about caring for a growing number of elderly Iowans and that includes their mental as well as physical health.

“This has been a long and heartbreaking year for older Americans,” Anderson says. “The vaccine rollout has been frustrating, especially for those without a computer and today older Iowans remain socially isolated.”

According to state records, nearly 2,200 Iowa nursing home residents have died of Covid. State officials say all those who live or work in an Iowa nursing home who wanted a Covid shot have gotten one. The Iowa Department of Public Health reports there are 141 current Covid cases among nursing home residents and employees.

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