The Kaw Valley chapter of the Older Women's League consulted with care-givers for the elderly Thursday about the uncertain future of the county-owned Valley View Care Home.
What the members found out is that although innovative care options exist, money for new programs may be increasingly scarce.
"A lot of us are hiding from the fact that it's going to cost more for the county, state and federal government," said David Slack, president of Retirement Management Co.
He cited the Clinton administration's commitment to cutting federal deficits and tightening state Medicaid funds.
Slack outlined what he sees as the future growth areas of the elderly care industry.
Assisted living and special care units for people with Alzheimer's Disease or related dementia topped his list.
THE RANGE of services between independent living and institutional care falls under the broad definition of assisted living. A popular approach is apartment clusters with aides available for personal-care services, such as laundry or grocery shopping.
Linda Roman, president of Innovative Health who serves as a management consultant for Valley View, said Valley View could be used for assisted living or as an Alzheimer's unit.
Roman has asked the Douglas County Commission to consider her offer to lease the home and convert it to an Alzheimer's unit. Commissioners have decided to examine her proposal and solicit as many others as they can. If any are acceptable, they expect to choose one within 90 days.
Advocates at the meeting called for a broader view of the Valley View question.
"It strikes me of what a lost opportunity we are almost on the verge of witnessing," said Hilda Enoch, OWL member and guardian of a Valley View resident.
ENOCH SUGGESTED that when commissioners relinquish control of the home, they should put the Valley View subsidy and funds for other elderly services in a pot and cook up a comprehensive care system.
Such a system would include a range of services, such as adult day care, assisted living and institutional care, at one community site.
Several in attendance advocated a community partnership between private providers, Kansas University experts and local governments.
Lawrence City Commission candidate Jo Andersen attended the meeting and said she would push for more cooperation between the city and county to address growing concerns among elderly people.
County Administrator Craig Weinaug, who represented the county commission at the meeting, said commissioners were struggling just to tie up the loose ends of their decision to close Valley View.