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Thursday, April 14, 2011 - 6:57pm

Seniors Can Stay in Assisted Living Longer

A bill that would allow the elderly to remain in assisted living centers will head to Governor Nathan Deal for this signature.

Under current Georgia law, seniors are sometimes moved to nursing homes unwillingly when they are no longer mobile or can’t take their medications.

The measure would allow assisted living facilities to provide some services that nursing homes provide. If signed by Gov. Deal, the bill will set up procedures for licensing this new form of long-term care provider.

Rep. Ann Purcell said it’s taken 16 years to find a way to allow seniors to live independently longer.

“Now we do have a distinctive level of care. Personal care home, nursing home, and now with this bill assisted living communities," she said. "Seniors have an additional care level that will allow them to age in place.”

Kathy Floyd with AARP Georgia says a forced move to a nursing home can be traumatic for older people, particularly those with dementia. Assisted living facilities provide residents with opportunities to make friends and pursue interests.

Supporters say the bill helps Georgia prepare for the mass retirement of the baby boomer generation. Rep. Sharon Cooper chairs the Health and Human Services committee.

"We have 10,000 baby boomers going on Social Security every day," she said. "Ten thousand, across this country. And they will do that for the next 19 years. And this truly does give seniors who want to be independent as long as possible another opportunity to stay that way.”

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