You know that saying, “Don’t poke mamma bear?” It comes to mind when I think about the current national narrative around events taking place in California.
For those of you fairly new to the Keeping it REAL Caregiving family, I’ll share again that your correspondent, is born and raised in Northern California.
I love that my home is called ‘The Golden State.’
I love that California has progressive politics. I may not agree with everything but it seems to me, working to achieve fairness and equity for all citizens truly is American.
I love that our economy boasts one of the largest in the world - not just the country - but the world!
Now, that’s not to say California doesn’t have its problems, because we do.
Homelessness feels out of control up and down the state.
The cost of living is, in all honesty, high.
Climate issues are wreaking havoc in communities north to south with drought, fires and flooding.
State politics saw a bumpy year with the democratic governor beating back a divisive recall election.
So yeah, we have some serious issues. What state doesn't? But when I continually read news articles from national outlets crafting the narrative that EVERYONE wants out of California because the ‘golden sheen’ has worn off… I make the case: that is simply NOT true. That narrative also makes me angry.
When I hear people who have lived in this state their entire lives, and have worked for state government (which means their livelihood has come from tax-payer dollars in California) bashing their home state from prices, to crime, to efforts to achieve a more sustainable environment for everyone…well, that makes me ANGRY!
Let’s face it, folks. EVERY SINGLE STATE in the country has some sort of problems that impact the people who live there. But simply pointing fingers doesn’t fix those problems.
...gathering information about how all people are being affected (not just those who look and vote like you do) then figuring out plans to address the situation.
As you know, KIRC is NOT a political forum. Caregiving and eldercare doesn’t care about your affiliations. We are all in this together.
What does any of this have to do with caregiving and eldercare? We’ve touched on this in the past, but I’ll refresh your memory.
California is one of only five states in the ENTIRE COUNTRY in which elected policy-makers have seen the writing on the wall of an aging population and have a Master Plan for Aging in place.
Recently I was asked to join one of the advisory arms involved with gathering, sharing and discussing information about this topic in our state; the Equity in Aging Advisory Committee.
This is exciting, given I started Keeping it REAL Caregiving in March, 2021 because I believe the more voices who understand the elder landscape… the more we can impact positive changes to care. The effort is an evolving 'work in progress.'
KIRC is super proud to be involved at this level. As I often like to say, “It is important to have a seat at the table,” and this is a state level table!
This past week I took part in one of the ongoing webinars hosted by the California Department of Aging, which oversees the California Master Plan for Aging.
One of the key items that stood out for me during this session, was the fact the California Department of Social Services is actively working to identify housing needs (or lack thereof) for older Californians.
I will admit, even as a journalist, I was not aware of this program and I will venture to guess many of you may not know about it either. And this is why making sure to have a seat at the table matters. We can't work to improve and/or help others unless we stay informed.
Ramsey said a Request for Applications (RFA) will be released in early 2022 in coordination with the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS).
There was another key item that stood out for me. As I listened to those taking part in this session, it appeared that most if not all lived in more populated, urban regions of the state.
Again, KIRC is based in what I call ‘the REAL Northern California,’ in the more rural portion of the state. But during this session I did not hear a voice representing a more rural viewpoint, other than mine.
Yet, I routinely hear residents and public officials in this region rallying against state politics rather than engaging and trying to work together for solutions - perhaps solutions that would HELP many of the older residents; many with few resources, who call Northern rural regions home.
Seriously folks, this just makes me #SMH! If the aging, caregiving, eldercare boat sinks... we all go down! We must reach and include everyone!
During the discussion about increased messaging coming from the state, I asked if any of those materials included demographics of people who represent rural regions and lifestyle (remember, rural doesn't mean old or white... it means the realities facing your region for economy, access, connectivity and services).
I also asked for more suggestions of how individuals can work to ensure health/safety for elders in the midst of Covid-19 when many in my county (even some elected officials) are pushing back against the vaccine and mask-wearing.
As we approach the final days of 2021, I know many of us are thinking about the holidays and winding down.
I encourage you to use some of that holiday downtime to look around your communities and identify issues important to you, whether that is caregiving or something else. Educate yourselves. Get involved. Figure out where and how you can make a difference.
I leave you with this challenge: Are you going to enter 2022 as one of those people who get angry and complain, point fingers, and believe solutions boil down to moving out of your state?
Or, are you going to stop 'poking the bear,' figure out which ‘table’ is important to you and then work to make sure you have a seat at that table?
Until next time~
*Header Image Courtesy: Adobe Stock/Premier
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