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NPR Aging in Place series

by Louis on August 23, 2010

A four part NPR series by Jennifer Ludden on Aging in Place starts today. The first segment is a very good story that refers to a few families who are planning to age in place. I found one key line to be: “They know they will need help and they have a plan for that too.” It goes on to describe benefits of Beacon Hill style villages for those who want to Age in Place. Recognizing that you will need help is a big step to preparing for Aging in Place, and preparing is the only way it will happen.

This series is a good indicator of growing attention to housing and care issues for our growing older population. Communities across the country are concerned about our aging population.  I found the NPR report while reading a blog for a Reston, Virginia Aging concerns group. It has a good, simple description of what is needed throughout the country:

“a group of concerned citizens and organizations seeking to understand the needs and perceptions of Restonians and help create solutions toward making Reston a great place for people of all ages and abilities.”

Many similar community leadership efforts  are underway. Some direction comes from organizations that have devised techniques to help leaders avoid ‘inventing the wheel’. One is the Advantage Initiative sponsored by the Visiting Nurses of New York. Another is the Aging in Place Initiative run by Partners for Livable Communities in conjunction with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, funded by the MetLife Foundation.

The Village , volunteerism, intentional community and local leadership movements will all play significant roles in the future of Aging home and care. Our communities must become age friendly. (And besides the corollary benefits to everyone are numerous and substantial.)

These are great ideas but I fear the sheer numbers and the continuing need at the serious end of chronic illness will overwhelm these movements. Most of these programs do exciting and interesting work just below the threshold of  ‘push comes to shove’ when families are overwhelmed, folks are forced from their homes and assets do not cover care needs. For that we will need more substantial paradigm level and infrastructure changes in funding and delivering prevention and care. I am not the only one who thinks the scale of reform needs to be huge. The titans from GE and Intel said so as they announced their joint effort recently.

I do not mean to belittle the efforts being made in progressive communities all over the country. This might be seen as the quality of life end of our future. I think we need to add a dimension of national effort and funding to prepare for the basics – adequate and appropriate shelter and care.

I look forward to the remaining segments in the series.

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