Older Adults Living Independently
Older Adults Living Independently is a focus on programs that promote independent living for older citizens, 65 years and older who are low-income, or cost burdened and wish to live in their own homes as long as it is possible. Preference is given to services that support aging within independent homes over independent living facilities.
Statement of Need
As the Baby-Boom generation ages, available resources to support living independently will grow even more important as large numbers of people and their caregivers seek ways to "age in place" and with dignity. Particularly vulnerable are older persons struggling with the basic cost of living and minimum resources necessary to meet basic needs for housing, utilities, food, uncovered medical expenses, etc. In 2013 in our area, 30% or more of an older adult's income went toward housing and other fixed cost expenses causing many older adults to be unable to afford the help needed to remain safe and independent in their homes.
Funding to address one of the four following areas will be considered:
1. Care Coordination/Case Management (CC)
Care Coordination/Case Management is defined as the organized implementation of a customized course of action determined for a person's unique medical care and social support needs. These services help guide older adults through often fragmented systems of care and available services so they can make the most informed decisions that will lead to a healthier more dignified independence.
Funding includes a formal process to conduct an individual assessment, identification of areas for assistance, assistance to clients in addressing areas identified, follow up, and evaluation.
2. Minor Home Repairs
As older adults continue to age, many also desire to continue living independently in their own homes, or "age in place." Successful components of aging in place include independence, safety, and comfort—with the individual's home being closely tied to each. Substandard housing, poverty, and crime are all unfortunate circumstances that exist in the St. Louis Region. Leaking roofs, inadequate siding, porches that obstruct or prevent access into and out of a home, and insufficient heating and cooling all contribute to unsafe living situations. An individual's ability to manage their own home repairs might be hindered due to age-related declines, leaving low-income and disabled older adults with the overwhelming burden of costly maintenance and repairs and threatening their ability to live safely and independently in their own home. Providing minor home repairs to older adults can prevent homelessness and unsafe living conditions, support successful aging, and encourage peoples to re-engage in their communities.
Funding includes home repair programs that are assisting low income older adults with obtaining minor home repairs. Home repairs should be for homeowners only. Minor home repair is defined as basic plumbing, carpentry, and electrical needs, the installation of assistive devices or any non-major cost repair critical to the safety and health of the senior. The agency must have a history of running a home repair program. The average cost for minor home repair is $3,500 per home.
Transportation is a determinant of health according to the World Health Organization because of the role it plays in independence and how it shapes individuals access to resources. As such, transportation can be the major factor in a senior’s access to the resources and services necessary to continue living independently at home. Older adults who do not have reliable and affordable transportation options are more likely to experience increased isolation and deteriorating physical and mental health. Transportation improves their quality of life by providing connections to the community, resulting in maintained health and wellness and sustained independence.
Funding includes established transportation programs that are assisting low income older adults with their transportation needs. Transportation programs with” doors through door” assistance will be given preference over programs that stop at the curb. Programs that are directed specifically for older adults will be given preference over programs that include a broader population.
4. Oral Health Literacy
Oral health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic oral health information and services needed to make appropriate oral health decisions, and it is an important component of oral health care for older adults. A lack of oral health literacy can significantly affect oral health care as well as overall health.
Adults ages 65 and older make up the fastest growing segment of the American population, and today's older adults are more likely to retain their dentition, meaning they are at a greater risk for oral diseases. Because of their age, older adults often face a host of conditions that make oral health even more critical. Approximately 30% of all prescriptions are dispensed to people 65 and older with as many as 95% causing oral side effects such as dry mouth, soft tissue lesions, taste changes, gingival growth, burning oral sensations, and increased tooth decay. Many older adults also have receding gums which can result in decay along the gum line and poor diet can contribute further to dental diseases.
Funding will focus on education and prevention for older individuals and their caregivers about the importance of dental care in maintaining independence and prevent premature illness or death.