New Jersey seniors may soon be granted more resources designed to allow them to age ever longer at home. The proposed 2013 New Jersey state budget is likely to include a large increase in funding for the Global Options program, which helps elderly New Jersey residents remain in their homes.

Given the prevalence of nursing home abuse and neglect in New Jersey, this funding increase could significantly improve the lives of seniors who might otherwise be forced to live in nursing facilities.

A majority of New Jersey’s long-term care Medicaid spending is spent on nursing facilities. However, the state has recently been prioritizing programs that shift funding and other resources to options including in-home and community-based care.

Global Options, which provides services such as housekeeping aides and visiting nurses for in-home residents eligible for Medicaid, is budgeted to receive $280 million from New Jersey taxpayers in 2013. Comparatively, only $30 million total was budgeted by the state for in-home elderly care services in 2007.

This shift in resources, from nursing-home care to in-home and community-based care, will likely benefit seniors in a variety of ways. However, some critics are concerned that many aging members of the population who do require the 24-hour care that nursing homes provide will be hurt by the shift in resources. Perhaps, they argue, nursing homes which are even more crunched financially will become breeding grounds for abuse and neglect.

While keeping the elderly in their own homes longer is a worthy goal, the state must take care to ensure that those who remain in nursing homes will be adequately funded and ultimately protected from psychological and physical injury.

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