Aging in place panelists explore what’s working to keep seniors living at home

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Almost every older adult — about 90% according to AARP — will tell you that they want to remain in their own home or in their community as they age. However, that can be a challenge as health issues mount, frailty takes hold or barriers like stairs seem insurmountable. Aging in place is often more easily said than done.

Challenges of social isolation, lack of nearby family to help, or appropriate, safe housing are among the biggest roadblocks to successful aging in place, according to the National Institutes on Aging. While some older adults can afford to hire caregivers who can help them with the various tasks of daily living such as bathing, dressing, or meal preparation, many cannot.

Most insurance won’t cover basic help that can keep seniors in their own homes longer either. Medicare pays for long-term assistance like this only when skilled nursing or rehabilitative services are required. Medicare Advantage plans may pay for some additional help, depending on the plan.

Older adults who can’t afford help out-of-pocket or lack insurance that covers this type of care, must rely on safety net programs. Many elderly and their families are unaware these programs exist, or how to access them. From Meals on Wheels to handymen who retrofit living spaces to address safety concerns, states, health systems, and not-for-profits are creating innovative approaches to deliver the services and supports that allow older adults to remain in their own homes, delay or prevent avoidable hospitalizations or nursing home placement, and reduce health costs, as this article from Washington State University Extension explains.

What does successful aging in place look like?

Join us for an expert panel for a lively discussion of some innovative approaches around the U.S.

Robyn Stone, Ph.D., a leading researcher on long term policy and co-director, LeadingAge Long Term Services and Supports Center @UMass Boston, will highlight several state programs, like SASH in Vermont, that can be replicated elsewhere.

Sarah Szanton, Ph.D., A.N.P., director, Center for Innovative Care in Aging; professor for health equity and social justice, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, will discuss the Community Aging in Place Advancing Better Living for Elders (CAPABLE) program; they’ve partnered with Habitat for Humanity to combine services in nursing and occupational therapy with Habitat’s expertise in home repairs.

Peggy Simpson, president emerita, Dupont Circle Village; secretary, Village to Village Network board, and a freelance journalist, will talk about the Village model and how this community-based approach meets the challenges of aging in place.

Find out how these, and other models can succeed in the communities you cover. Remember to follow the session on Twitter at #AHCJaging.

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