It Doesn’t Matter to You, until It Matters to You

By Eva Veitch, Director, Community Living Services, Region 10

[October 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage]

Community outreach is an important part of our work at Community Living Services; we try to make sure older adults and their caregivers know how to access information and resources that help them remain safely at home. What we find is that people don’t really listen to what we are saying—until they are in a crisis; then the information is suddenly important!

In a perfect world, people would already have a good understanding of the available resources, know how they want to live their golden years, and have things set up to accomplish that. In reality, we are all busy and in denial until the fall results in a broken hip, the stroke leaves Mom unable to live alone, or the home is no longer accessible.

The Older Americans Act of 1965 (as amended in 2016) states that area agencies on aging shall:

“Serve as the advocate and focal point for older individuals within the community by (in cooperation with agencies, organizations, and individuals participating in activities under the plan) monitoring, evaluating, and commenting upon all policies, programs, hearings, levies, and community actions which will affect older individuals.”

Every four years, we are required to complete a plan that lays out our funding and program priorities for the coming years. In preparation for this exercise, we held 13 community meetings throughout Region 10 and conducted 3 random surveys. We learned a lot about what seniors want, what they like about their communities, and what is not working for them.

Not surprisingly, the number one thing that older adults want is to remain at home. Things like reliable and flexible transportation options, caregiver support, and in-home services are critical services for accomplishing that goal. At every meeting, most participants reported being computer savvy and annoyed with robocalls; many have fallen victim to scams and are uneasy about giving out personal information.

Through the surveys, we discovered that over half of those surveyed had fallen at least once in the past year. Many reported that their emotional well-being has declined. Forty-five percent of the older adults in Region 10 are providing care for someone else. The number of older adults with primary custody of children has doubled in the last four years. It’s clear that our seniors and senior caregivers need more help.

In the coming weeks, we will be presenting the Region 10 four-year plan to communities thoughout the six counties we serve. Please plan to attend and share your thoughts. It may not matter to you today, but it will matter at some point. Knowledge is POWER.