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.
Older Adults in the St. Louis Region
On average, people are living longer, healthier lives, leading to a larger population of older adults. By 2045, one in four people in the St. Louis metro area will be older than 65, representing a 77% increase over 30 years. As the population of older adults increases, so does their demand for services. However, aging can introduce new challenges in meeting one’s basic needs and accessing services like healthcare and transportation. Options for such services are often even further constrained in rural and suburban areas, where older adults are more likely to live. These obstacles subsequently impact older adults’ ability to age in place, or “live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level”.
Benefits of Living Independently
There are numerous benefits of living independently as an older adult, including increased life satisfaction and better health and self-esteem. More specifically, if older adults feel connected to the community they currently live in and have forged relationships with their neighbors, this can positively impact their mental and physical health and reduce isolation as they age. Residing in a familiar environment has also been shown to slow memory loss among older adults as they age. This social connectedness not only benefits older adults, but strengthens their communities too. Moreover, for many older adults in our region, aging in place is a cost effective option that allows them to remain in an environment they are used to navigating and continue to contribute to the communities they call home.
Marillac Mission Fund’s Response
Aging in place is preferred among nearly 90% of people over the age of 65. However, without assistance, it is not accessible to many older adults, particularly those who are low-income or cost burdened. In order to encourage autonomy and promote high quality of life for these individuals, MMF supports programs to help older adults live in their own homes and communities for as long as possible.
Among older adults who wish to live independently, concerns related to housing, transportation, socialization, safety, and caretaking are common. In the St. Louis metropolitan area, affordable transportation and accessible housing represent the greatest needs of this group. By funding initiatives that provide services such as minor home repairs, care coordination, and transportation assistance, Marillac Mission Fund directly addresses these needs.
Minor home repairs can help older adults safely remain in the homes and neighborhoods they’re accustomed to. Repairs can also prevent homelessness and unsafe living conditions, support successful aging, and encourage older adults to remain engaged in their communities.
Care coordination/Case management includes the organized implementation of a customized course of action determined for a person’s unique medical care and social support needs. These services are crucial in allowing older adults to remain independent, especially given the difficulty of navigating complex health care systems.
Transportation assistance lessens the chances of social isolation among older adults, as this makes it more likely that they will leave their homes. Accessible transportation can also provide easier access to essential resources and services, such as healthcare.
By providing this tailored support, MMF is able to empower older adults to enjoy healthier and more dignified independence as they age.