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Where's My Senior Discount?

Old people. Politics.

It’s not too often that the 2 intersect.

Maybe when Grandma Sue goes off on a rant about the state of the world at Thanksgiving dinner. Or when Uncle Bob shows up at Red Lobster wearing his “Where’s My Senior Discount?” shirt.

But that’s about it. By and large the elderly aren’t a political force to be reckoned with.

That goes the same for those who take care of them. They’re kinda busy with other things. Like trying to monitor the increasingly alarming antics of their elderly mom. Or trying to find meaningful resources that might provide some support.

So it was with only mild interest that I took note of a piece of legislation that I learned about at a caregiver support event that I attended earlier this spring.

This was it, as described by AARP in its advocacy effort:

Under SB 1172 Arizona's caregiving families would be able to apply for a grant, not greater than $1,000, to partially cover an expense that will allow an older relative to remain with family, as opposed to being forced to move to more costly nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Only taxpayers with Arizona adjusted gross income less than $75,000 (single) or $150,000 (joint filers) would qualify for the credit.

An example would be purchasing a ramp that would allow wheelchair-bound elders to safely and easily get in and out of their home.

Honestly, I was a little less than impressed. According to AARP, “on average family caregivers spend $7,000 a year out of their own pocket on care for their loved ones.”

I happen to believe that most people – myself included – spend a lot more than $7,000 a year to keep their elderly loved ones in their home setting. But I kept my thoughts to myself. Because… everybody at the event I attended was really excited! The elderly had made it onto the legislative radar, and at least one Senate and one House member were making the effort to advocate on their behalf for some much needed financial support.

Now, as a former grant writer, I totally get that any amount of funding is a good thing.

But as someone whose blood pressure jumps 20 points every 2 weeks when a 4-digit home helper bill shows up in the mail, my first thought was not really a noble one. My first thought was, “Whoop-de-do.” My second thought was, “Wow! Seeking $1,000 is sort of a low expectation. Why not go big?”

But who am I to say? Maybe $1,000 could make all the difference for someone truly in need!

So I dutifully emailed the 2 co-sponsors my support, and then moved on. It wasn’t until the other day when, for some reason, I thought, whatever happened to that bill?

Well, as near as I can tell, the bill never made it into law!

From my feeble attempts at navigating this bill’s legislative journey, it appears it ended up being “Engrossed.” For the layperson – like me – it means that it made progress, everyone discussed it, but for whatever reason it never made it into the “Passed” category.

Really? $1,000? The Arizona legislature could not see its way clear to provide “up to” $1,000 for some needy elderly person whose loved one actually made the time to apply?

Apparently not.

Back to AARP: Arizona's 800,000+ family caregivers are the first line of defense against older Arizonans being forced out of their homes and into costly, taxpayer-funded nursing homes.

That’s a lot of people providing services that do not require payment by the state, the feds, or anyone else.

$1,000??!! What else is there to say?

Except…You go, Uncle Bob!! DEMAND that senior discount! You deserve it.

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