The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury, Jason Mumpower, released a research report recently that was troubling for those who have family and friends who are aging.
As we know, the older population continues to expand at an excessive rate across America, and with the baby boomers hitting retirement age, states will continue to feel the pressure if they aren’t prepared. Just in Tennessee alone, the population statistics for those over 60 will increase 30 percent from 2020 to 2040. That increase is staggering, but what is even more alarming, Tennesseans over the age of 80 will double during that time.
With the aging population increasing, states are having to keep a closer eye on those who provide services for their vulnerable adults. In Tennessee, the nursing homes and assisted living communities are highly regulated and have a solid track record of caring for the elderly. Based on the Comptrollers report, state and regulatory agencies who provide oversight believe a significant number of unlicensed facilities targeting our elderly and vulnerable population may still be operating without a license.
The total number of unlicensed facilities caring for the elderly is unknown, but the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations reported 64 complaints in the first 6 months of 2021. The Department of Health, Mental Health, Human Services, and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities have all received complaints regarding the unlicensed facilities housing elderly and vulnerable adults.
We have been passionate advocates for our elderly population and will continue to support quality affordable care. Every chance we get, we ask our government officials to help us fight back against the excessive abuse of our older Americans. Several Attorneys General from across the southeast who have joined our podcasts encouraged us to help educate older adults and families about those preying on the elderly.
We see the unlicensed facilities that are open for business in Tennessee as a trap waiting to financially exploit their vulnerable residents through various schemes. We are grateful that Governor Lee asked the Tennessee Commission on Aging to study this unlicensed facilities issue in 2020. An Examination of Unlicensed Facilities in Tennessee comprehensive report was drafted to resolve the issue in 2021, but based on a recent article in the Tennessee Lookout, it appears that we may still have a problem. With the billions of dollars being swindled from our vulnerable population, one unlicensed facility caring for the elderly is too many. We trust our Tennessee public officials will resolve this issue soon.