Commentary

Paul Downey

Paul Downey is the president and CEO of Senior Community Centers, a nonprofit agency dedicated to increasing the quality of life for San Diego seniors living in poverty. Learn more at www.servingseniors.org.

Serving Seniors

One of life’s universal truths is that we all aspire to grow old.

Sometimes Congress gets it right and should be praised. The cynical among you might say it is their job to get it right — and you would be correct. But remember, this is 2015, when political dysfunction usually reigns.

California’s system of long-term care for older adults is broken, costly, fragmented, lacking leadership and has no mechanism of accountability or improvement. That is the disturbing conclusion of a report by the Senate Select Committee on Aging and Long-Term care entitled “A Shattered System: Reforming Long-Term Care in California.”

Peggy Shannon died in December at the age of 68 after complications from surgery. You might be thinking her name sounds familiar, but can’t quite place it.

There are many lessons from the November midterm elections, but none is more striking than the deep division between young and older voters. According to exit polling by NBC News, voters over 60 outnumbered voters under 30 by a 2-1 margin. The divide is even starker when you see who they voted for — 55 percent of those 60 plus voted for Republicans, while 55 percent of those under 30 voted for Democrats.

Congress is like the weather. We all talk about it, but nobody does anything about it. We routinely re-elect incumbents — Republicans and Democrats — despite the fact that most public opinion polls put Congress’ approval rating in the low teens.

Malnourished seniors come in all shapes and forms.

Clichés are trite and overused phrases that have an annoying tendency to be true. Take for example “silver tsunami” and “graying of America.” These have become go-to phrases in just about all baby boomer news reports and speeches. I’m guilty of sliding these worn sayings into a few columns and community presentations myself.

Senior homelessness in San Diego County is a significant problem and is projected to get worse. Senior homelessness nationally is expected to grow by 33 percent by 2020 and more than double by 2050, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Ignacio is a San Diego native and an Army veteran who served in the 101st Airborne Division, the Screaming Eagles. He is homeless and, like many low-income seniors, alone with no family to help him out.

Gone are the days when businesses existed to make money and nonprofits focused only on making the world a better place. Now both are influencing each others’ practices and finding ways to work together.

San Diego’s next mayor will have a full agenda, no doubt about that. From revitalizing neighborhoods to funding pensions to working out managed competition for city services, our new chief executive must begin planning for the graying of San Diego — and I’m not talking about May gray. The number of San Diegans over the age of 60 will double by 2030 and represent one in four residents.

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