Michael McCormick is undaunted by complex statistical computations that predict the needs of Oregon's expanding senior population. But the Oregon Department of Human Services deputy director struggles with a simple finding from a casual question he asks strangers: "If you needed long-term care today, would you know where to go?" he asks.
"Most say no," he reports.
It turns out that's a very expensive answer. As Oregon grays with the rest of the nation, the need for pricey medical service at all levels expands -- exponentially among those requiring nursing home care or an expanding group suffering Alzheimer's disease. And the longer all Oregonians wait to prevent or forestall what seems inevitable debility, the more likely our older citizens will need institutionalized care that easily cracks $6,000 a month -- sometimes wiping out family resources, sometimes gouging taxpayers, sometimes both.