Lt. Gov. pitches plan for retirement aid

  • Posted: Monday, December 3, 2012 11:10 p.m.
    UPDATED: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 2:09 p.m.
Staff photo by Haley Hughes
S.C. Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell speaks Monday to the Aiken Sertoma Club about concerns he has for the state’s aging population.
Staff photo by Haley Hughes S.C. Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell speaks Monday to the Aiken Sertoma Club about concerns he has for the state’s aging population.

The goal of his administration is to be proactive, not reactive, to the “Great Tsunami” of baby boomers and the aid they require to ensure they age with dignity, according to S.C. Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell.

The Office on Aging, which his office oversees, provides meals, home care and transportation services to more than 27,000 South Carolina senior citizens, which allows them to remain in their homes comfortably. The cost to do so is $26 million.

Keeping senior adults in their homes keeps them out of Medicaid-based care facilities where the cost to support them rises exponentially, McConnell told the Aiken Sertoma Club on Monday. The cost to care for the same 27,000 were they to live in Medicaid-based care facilities would be more than $1 billion.

The concerns McConnell has are not going to go away.

Over 1 million baby boomers are set to retire in the fear future. Over one-third of seniors in South Carolina live on Social Security benefits alone, he cited, and more than 50 percent of those ages 55 and older have less than $50,000 saved.

“This speech is not intended to be politically charged, but rather it’s a plea to you. We’ve got to look ahead. We’ve got to analyze where we are, where we’re going to go and how we get there,” McConnell said. “Pumping endless amounts of money into it with no plan is not a solution.”

He shared a handful of stories of the people he’s met and spoken with as hot meals were delivered to their homes – stories of senior citizens who want to stay in their homes and out of assisted living facilities, like the nearly-blind elderly gentleman whose only company is the volunteers who deliver hot meals.

“These are the faces of aging across South Carolina. They want to age in (their homes) with dignity. They’re not asking for handouts,” McConnell said.

The state can’t do it all, however. To that end, he pledged to build a web of nonprofits, churches and service clubs that will provide assistance in whatever ways they can, whether it be coordinating food drives to simply screwing in lightbulbs.

“I am convinced home-based services are the wave of the future in dealing with the ‘Great Tsunami,’” McConnell said.

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