It’s a fact of life that creeps up on all of us, if we’re lucky. Leading a life that results in old age is reason to celebrate – think of all the experiences and wisdom seniors are brimming with.
Still, there are parts of aging that are downright tough to deal with. The pace of life tends to slow down, and some seniors find that their physical and cognitive abilities change.
Tasks that were previously completed with ease might take much longer or become impossible to take on alone. Managing health care needs, grappling with social isolation and accessing healthy food and safe housing are some of the other issues that seniors might struggle with. If you can relate to any of these frustrations in yourself or a loved one, help is available.
In Michigan, there are well over a dozen Area Agencies on Aging that serve as a resource for seniors and their families in every corner of the state. Amendments to the federal Older Americans Act established AAAs in the 1970s. The non-profit entities administer federal grants that provide social services for the elderly including transportation assistance, nutrition and health support, adult day care services and other needed programming, such as respite care and support groups for caregivers.
AAAs are also agents for the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Waiver program, which provides services and supports aimed at keeping seniors in their own homes and local communities for as long as possible. About 15,000 Michigan seniors are served by this program. When you work with your local Area Agency on Aging, they can help you understand and access the services available to you in your community.
The need for support and services to help seniors will only continue to grow; seniors age 65 and up have topped 54 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, experiencing rapid growth over the past 10 years. Current projections from the bureau indicate that America’s older population will surpass those 18 and younger - currently at about 73 million - by 2035.
Today, 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day. The AAA network and other providers of long-term care will be challenged to meet this growing demand for services and support. In their most recent annual report, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging outlines their mission and how they’re carrying it through by focusing on these key tenets:
- Meeting the home and community-based services needs of older adults
- Addressing social determinants of health to support healthy aging
- Serving an increasingly diverse population
- Creating livable and dementia-friendly communities
- Innovating and expanding access to evidence-based solutions to the challenges of aging
- Promoting the opportunities of aging through social and civic engagement.
Knowing that help for seniors is a phone call or click away and available in all 83 of Michigan’s counties is reassuring. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has been proud to partner with local AAAs in Michigan on a variety of initiatives across the state. To find your local Area Agency on Aging, visit the U.S. Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator. If you found this post helpful, you might also like:
- Celebrating 40 Years: Michigan Senior Olympics
- How to Stay Social as a Senior
- Addressing Senior Health Disparities
Photo credit: SeventyFour