Oakland County has adopted a series of recommendations to help its seniors maintain their independence in the home of their choice.
The Blueprint for Successful Aging, prepared by the Area Agency on Aging 1-B (AAA 1-B) and adopted by the county’s Ad Hoc Committee on Healthy Aging, consists of 10 recommendations intended to fill gaps in existing services.
The Blueprint was spearheaded by Oakland County Commissioner Kristin Nelson (D-Waterford Twp.), who chaired the ad hoc committee. Working with AAA 1-B, the committee developed strategies for creating age-friendly communities that will be prepared for the increase in the number of older adults in Michigan.
The recommendations, based on surveys and public input, are:
• Provide more help with minor home repairs and installation of safety devices like handrails and wheelchair ramps
• Restore assistance with lawn care and snow removal for lower-income seniors
• Help more seniors with transportation options
• Reconvene the SAVE (Serving Adults who are Vulnerable and/or Elderly) task force to prevent financial exploitation and other forms of elder abuse
• Trim the waitlist for in-home care
• Encourage more collaboration between senior centers and public libraries
• Encourage more programs at senior centers and senior housing communities to reduce social isolation
• Boost accessibility to technology, also to reduce social isolation
• Create more volunteer opportunities for seniors
• Strengthen the county’s role in ensuring seniors have the supports and services they need to maintain their independence
“Seniors are sometimes overlooked in our society, but we’re not going to make that mistake,” says Oakland County Commissioner Penny Luebs (D-Clawson), a member of the ad hoc committee and AAA 1-B’s Board of Directors. “We’re ready to make sure Oakland County is properly supporting all of our community members, including our older residents. The simple act of caring for others, and our elders, is part of our humanity.”
The county plans to implement the recommendations this year.
The roadmap created by the ad hoc committee anticipates the explosive growth of the 75-plus population in Oakland County and statewide.
By 2022, Oakland County’s 60-plus population is projected to represent over 26% of the county’s population. Estimates show that the 80+ population in Oakland County will nearly double by 2045.
The ad hoc committee used AAA 1-B’s 2019 Oakland County Older Adult Needs and Solutions Survey and input from the public in a series of town hall meetings in September to inform its work.
The 2019 study found that nearly 75,000 Oakland County seniors live in poverty and cannot afford repairs to their homes. And while 80% of seniors own their homes, more than half of them spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs. Many of them are not eligible for low-income loan programs.
Seniors who were surveyed by AAA 1-B said they need help with minor home repairs, home safety devices like handrails and grab bars, and help with lawn mowing and snow removal.
The 2019 survey also found that:
• 18,000 seniors have difficulty getting to where they need to go.
• 85% of seniors have experienced some form of elder abuse.
• 70% of seniors will need long-term supportive services, such as homemaking and personal care.
• 16% of seniors (15,500) reported not having enough contact with friends, neighbors, and family.
The town hall meetings took input from 151 people. The takeaway was the need for the county to take a stronger leadership role in supporting seniors, whether by creating a separate position or department, increasing visibility of aging programs, and finding new sources of support.
“We applaud Oakland County commissioners’ efforts to identify and address the unmet needs of older Oakland County residents,” says AAA 1-B CEO and President Michael Karson. “The AAA 1-B also appreciates support from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, which will enable us to support implementation of the recommendations.”
The full report is available here or by going to the county’s website at https://www.oakgov.com/boc/News/Pages/default.aspx.