Caring for the elderly

Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel this week raised the alarm about the inadequate system to monitor and oversee local programs offering services to low-income elderly persons and recommended that those controls be improved. This is a common-sense recommendation, but also one that reminds us of a reality being experienced in our city, state and country: the aging of the population and the imminent retirement of the largest generation ever born in the U.S.—the so-called baby boomers, born between the end of World War II and the mid-1960s.

Many demographers have already called attention to this fact, because of the need for long-term planning of public policies to help and maintain this large elderly population in the near future.

Among minorities, Latinos have the fastest-growing older population. This group is particularly vulnerable, since they have saved fewer financial resources for their old age. Combined with losses in property values and other effects of the recent crisis, that means that this generation will reach retirement age facing more challenges to support themselves and address their own needs.

Governments at all levels and community organizations must design policies and programs that start establishing the foundations to tackle this situation, which will get increasingly serious in upcoming years. Of course, any public funds for programs like those audited by the Los Angeles controller must be carefully overseen in order to ensure that they are allocated to those who need them most, because the group will continue growing in the future. This population is also very vulnerable to all kinds of fraud, so local law enforcement agencies must remain vigilant to protect them.