We must protect Social Security and Medicare and ensure that everyone in our country has access to quality health care and a secure retirement.

We simply cannot ignore the fact that our elderly population is growing, to the point of forecasts predicting double the number Americans over the age of eighty by 2040. Cutting or privatizing Social Security or Medicare is not the answer. Instead, we need to work to find long-term solutions to keep these vital programs solvent. One way to do this is to “scrap the cap.” I support legislation that would lift the income cap on Social Security so that everyone pays the same percentage of their income into the program. We should also look at reducing benefits for the wealthy that often have greater financial security and do not rely on Social Security benefits in retirement.

We should work to enhance home care services that allow seniors to age in place, which is often more comfortable and cost-effective than institutional care. This includes access to medical care, personal care, and home modifications to accommodate their needs. Mental health services for seniors should also be improved, including access to telehealth services. This can help combat the isolation and loneliness many seniors face. We also need to promote seniors access to technology, which can play a crucial role in improving seniors’ quality of life. Programs that promote digital literacy and access to technology can help seniors stay connected and access health services more easily

There are things we can do now to improve nursing homes in the U.S., providing better care and support for seniors and enhancing their quality of life. We should set staffing minimums to ensure adequate staffing. We should work to provide better pay and benefits to attract and retain qualified staff. We can also increase training programs in geriatrics and long-term care, to ensure staff are better equipped to handle common end-of-life symptoms and grief support. Fostering relationships between nursing homes and local community organizations, such as schools, churches, and volunteer groups, can also help to combat those feelings of isolation felt by so many seniors.

In a recent disturbing trend, private equity firms have been buying up nursing homes. Above all, we need to work to ensure that senior and assisted living centers work for residents, not for profits.