Caregiving, personal finances are concerns on the minds of seniors

October 5, 2018

CHARLESTON — While two-thirds of West Virginia’s voters aged 50 and older say the national economy is growing and half say the state’s is, too, less than a third of that population is seeing personal financial benefits in their own lives. That’s according to the 2018 West Virginia Voters 50+ Report, an AARP WV poll being released this week.

On seniors’ minds are related issues, such as prices rising faster than their income, not being able to afford the health care they and their family members need, not being able to retire when they want to due to financial reasons and not being able to afford the education they or their family members need.

The nonprofit, non-partisan organization, which counts nearly 300,000 West Virginians among its members, surveyed voters age 50 and older in 20 states between August and September 2018, to assess what issues they would consider when they cast their ballots this fall.

The poll, conducted by Berenson Strategy Group and GS Strategy Group, surveyed 950 likely West Virginia voters between Aug. 21-26, 2018 — 724 likely voters over the age of 50, and 226 likely voters ages 18-49 — and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.

Of the group polled, 53 percent reported knowing someone who has struggled with opioid addiction, and two-thirds of the group said they were “extremely concerned” about heroin and opioid abuse in West Virginia.

When it comes to solutions to the problem, however, answers aren’t straightforward. Of the group surveyed, 48 percent agree that not enough is being done to stop the opioid epidemic and over-prescribing, but 36 percent feel it is becoming too difficult for patients who truly are in pain to get the medicine they need because of opioid crackdowns.

Other issues, such as prescription drug costs, Social Security and retirement weigh more heavily on the minds of AARP members than drug abuse, with 72 percent of those polled agreeing that they would vote for a candidate who wanted to require prescription drug companies to reduce the cost of prescriptions.

Caregiving also is an important issue for West Virginia’s

voters 50 and older. According to the AARP, approximately 300,000 family caregivers in West Virginia provide an estimated $2.8 billion in unpaid care annually for relatives who are ill, frail, elderly or who have a physical, mental or emotional disability.

Almost without exception older voters (93 percent) support an income tax credit for family caregivers who take on caregiving responsibilities — in line with widespread support (74 percent) across party lines to reallocate resources away from institutional care, such as nursing homes, toward home care.

Additionally, Medicaid is popular among West Virginia voters aged 50 and older, with 68 percent holding a favorable view of the program and 23 percent reporting a “very favorable” view of the program.

Results from the AARP WV poll have been released over a three-day period — Oct. 2-4 — in newspapers and on newspaper websites across West Virginia, giving readers a chance to review and comment online on the results of the poll. For more information, visit AARP West Virginia on Facebook and on Twitter @AARPWV.

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