Page 19 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - November 2019 - 26-11
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 The AARP Livable Communities Initiative works to support the efforts of communities to work together to be as livable as possible for people of all ages. Established in 2012, the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities is an affiliate of the World Health Organizations program to help cities and states nationwide and globally prepare for the growing population of older adults.
A number of Michigan cities have already joined the Age-Friendly Communities Network – including Grand Rapids, Jackson, Lansing, Auburn Hills, and Southfield. AARP provides technical support around the community engagement and planning process. More infor- mation is available at AARP.org/Livability Roadmap.
The Calhoun County Senior Millage supports twenty-two different programs to help seniors live as independent and safe as possible, and to help solve life problems. Senior Transportation is available through Community Action at (269) 565-4144. Home- Delivered Meals, or Meals on Wheels is available for frail older adults who can no longer prepare food safely, and one-time assis- tance with home maintenance chores is also available for low-income seniors through the Handy Helper program. Both programs run
by Senior Services of Southwest Michigan at 1-866-200-8877.
On October 7, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that Michigan joined
the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities and the World Health Organization Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities. Michigan becomes the 5th state to join the effort. The others
are Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, and New York. “We are the first Age-Friendly State in the Midwest Region; we want to make sure people can age in place in their homes and communities. Active aging is a life-long process and making communities more age-friendly is a commonsense poli-
cy approach for responding to demographic aging,” said the Governor. In a livable com- munity, people of all ages can go for a walk on sidewalks and paths, cross streets safely, ride bikes, get around without a car, have
Being age-friendly is a challenge for plan- ners and elected leaders but evaluating your home to make sure it will fit you as you age is a personal challenge.
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I-94 Marshall
I-69 Coldwater Exit 13
Old US 12 Indiana
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9011 W. Chicago (US 12) • Allen, Michigan 49227
Senior Times - November 2019 Page 19
AGE-FRIENDLY HOUSING & COMMUNITIES: THE AARP LIVABLE COMMUNITIES INITIATIVE
By: Helen Guzzo, LMSW, Manager, Calhoun County Senior Services
What will prevent you from staying in your current housing as you age? What would make your community age-friendly? The population of the United States and Michigan is rapidly aging. By 2030, one of every five people in the U.S. will be 65 or older. In Michigan, residents 50 and older currently make up 37 percent of the state’s population.
By 2025, Michigan residents 65 and older will outnumber those younger than 18.
safe housing, have opportunities to work and volunteer, enjoy public parks and places, buy healthy food, socialize, and find the services that are needed to make their community
My in-laws modeled decisions to prepare for the challenges of aging. When they retired at age 65, they moved to a two-bedroom condo, selling the large ranch house where they had raised their children. They also moved to a bigger city leaving the small town with limited healthcare options. In the larger area, there was also a vibrant senior center with exercise and travel programs. They vol- unteered in the community. When they start- ed experiencing greater health problems as they neared age 80, they had their bathroom remodeled removing the tub and enlarging the walk-in shower. They added grab bars in the bathrooms and at the door from the garage.
a lifelong home. Being age-friendly means everything from walkable downtowns, oppor- tunities for work and volunteering to access to health care, housing, and transportation options.
Planning ahead for changes in life makes aging easier, whether you modify your exist- ing home or move to a home more suited for possible mobility challenges and other changes aging brings.
Before a fall or other health care problem, evaluate your home for livability should you or another family member become unable to use stairs or need to start relying on assistive devices.
Creating age-friendly communities and housing is a challenge the new Michigan Governor has pledged to address. On a person- al level as you age, be intentional about pre- paring your housing to meet the changes that aging brings.
As my parents have aged, I have added grab bars in the main bathroom for when they stay over and added a handrail to the one step up onto my front porch. After a family dinner, my mother-in-law announced that she wouldn’t visit any more until it got easier to get up that one big step, so we added a handrail.
Helen Guzzo, LMSW, is the Manager
of Calhoun County Senior Services, which funds a variety of services for residents age 60 and over with Senior Millage tax dollars. To learn more, call (269) 781-0846.
Allen
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