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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- While the political talk in Raleigh centers on whether or not the governor did the right thing by not expanding Medicaid, the truth is that our aging population will have more to say about Medicaid than anything else.

More people are moving to Mecklenburg County every week. They are older, and need more services. That is in addition to the aging population Mecklenburg already has. The fastest growing population segment in Mecklenburg County is people 85 years and older.

We are getting ready to see a tsunami of older people who need assistance. The biggest risk factor for dementia is age, says Pat Mayhew, a Caregiver Support Specialist for Mecklenburg County s Department of Social Services. She goes on to say right now, There are hundreds of people waiting for services.

Neal Broome, age 80, is one of the people Mayhew has helped. He receives meals, and part-time in-home care from Mecklenburg County. His wife is battling Alzheimer s disease. He knows the need is greater than people realize.

Neal said, The people who built this town made it a nice place to be. We re at the age now where we need some help.

Broome is now selling his Providence Road home that he and his wife have shared since 1967 to help pay for her care. He has done everything he can to avoid this.

We are looking at nursing home, or assisted living whatever the doctor recommends for the kind of care she needs. I ve gone as far as I can and not been very productive. I m afraid with her fear of falling that s pretty intense, Broome said.

Adult daycares are at capacity in Mecklenburg County. At the Piedmont Adult Living Services, in Charlotte s South End neighborhood, 42 people are cared for five days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are six participants for every caregiver. The people here cannot care for themselves. Some have diabetes, blood pressure, and difficulty eating. Breakfast from Costco or Sam s runs about $700 a month. A hot lunch for everyone runs $5,200 per month. DSS and Medicaid pay for most of the $60 per day participant cost. Caregivers at the site say the need for services like this is triple for families across the county adding strain to the Medicaid system.

Medicaid s budget is the second largest budget item for North Carolina. Education is the largest.

There are resources available to help:

Call 704 432-1111

www.charmeck.org

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