Questions remain on how the rise in California seniors with disabilities will impact the LTSS system

In a report to the California Senate Health Committee, the Legislative Analyst’s Office gave an overview of the projected number and growth of seniors with disabilities in the state in the coming years. According to the report, preparing for the growing population and ensuring they have access to services and supports will require additional planning from the legislature.

Individuals with “limitations in activities of daily living” (ADLs) can utilize Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) which can include institutional care, home/community-based services, and informal care. Long-Term Services and Supports are important for any one with ADL limitations, including those 65 years and up.

While California currently has a median age below the national median, the state is getting older.

“Over the past ten years, the share of people over the age of 65 increased from 11 percent of state population in 2007 (3.9 million) to 14 percent in 2017 (5.5 million),” the report reads.

By the year 2060, California’s senior population is expected to more than double from 5.5 million to 13.4 million. Not only will the overall senior population grow, but the population of seniors with a disability is expected to grow at an even faster rate. In the coming years, a greater portion of the senior population will be made up of individuals 85 and older, as well as nonwhite seniors – both groups have higher rates of disability.

In 2015, approximately one million California seniors had an ADL limitation; by 2060 that number is projected to reach 2.7 million.

“The rapid growth and changing demographics of California’s senior population raises questions about seniors’ LTSS needs, LTSS system capacity, and the financial impact of LTSS on personal and state finances,” the report reads.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office recommends that the state look into studying and developing California-specific projections on LTSS utilization and financing. To better understand the future of utilization and financing of the LTSS system, the report outlines four key remaining questions to answer:

  • Is the current LTSS system meeting the needs of seniors and people with disabilities?
  • How many individuals will need some form of LTSS in the future?
  • Which services will disabled seniors utilize?
  • How will future LTSS utilization impact the financing of state-funded LTSS programs?