After six months of reporting on promising efforts to improve the quality of life of older Mainers, we asked you to rate six potential solutions. Here are the results.
1. Communities organize to help elders age in place
Average score out of a total of 5: 4.62
Total votes: 92
Find the activity that’s easiest for your community to do to help older adults, and do it. Whether it’s starting a volunteer transportation program with a church, having a community lunch once a week, or holding a regular talk with seniors about what it’s like to age, just do something.
The act of getting people together and working toward an achievable goal will only help you if you end up pursuing a village program like At Home Downeast on the Blue Hill Peninsula where volunteers help paying elder members with basic assistance — such as rides to appointments, check-ins from a nurse, and weekly grocery and prescription delivery — to remain safe at home.
2. Health systems, local people and Congress improve end-of-life planning, education and care
Average score out of a total of 5: 4.43
Total votes: 96
Doctors’ offices and health care systems should have a strategy for guiding patients through the end-of-life planning process.
In addition, physicians should receive more education about hospice and palliative care. They must learn to listen to their concerns and goals — and follow through and honor patient wishes.
And end-of-life planning should be covered by Medicare, the country’s health insurance program for those over 65. Medicare should also reimburse for hospice services provided via audio-video technology.
Local people can help hospice programs by serving on committees, doing office work or collaborating on fundraising projects, or they can help patients one on one.
3. Towns fix zoning that blocks senior housing; research continues on housing needs
Average score out of a total of 5: 4.4
Total votes: 94
Each town or city should examine how its local zoning ordinances affect the construction of senior-friendly housing or the modification of existing homes. It can research how to amend local rules to allow home sharing or multi-family living arrangements that permit older Mainers to stay at home longer.
In addition, an entity with a significant reach, most likely the Maine State Housing Authority, should set a roadmap for the state’s senior housing needs. How much more subsidized housing for seniors will be required over the next few decades, and where should it be built — taking into consideration nearby health care services and amenities? How many more rental vouchers should be targeted to seniors, given the current and projected need?
4. More police departments and medical offices offer check-in programs
Average score out of a total of 5: 4.25
Total votes: 88
Every person who needs access to a check-in program — where older participants call dispatchers (most often) to let them know they’re all right — should have one.
Regardless of whether the programs are run by police departments, medical offices or community organizations, they should share information about what ends up working best, such as whether more seniors participate when they call one another rather than dispatchers.
5. Staff at all financial institutions get trained to spot potential exploitation
Average score out of a total of 5: 4.21
Total votes: 89
Congress should pass a bill requiring all pertinent staff at financial institutions to be trained to identify and respond to potential fraud. Bank and credit union tellers are in prime positions to spot financial exploitation and should know what to look for and how to help.
6. Businesses take initiative to update their approach
Average score out of a total of 5: 3.83
Total votes: 92
Every company should review how its practices affect workers of any age, including older workers, and determine how best to update them. Is it possible to offer flexible work schedules to better help employees who care for family members? How can your business extend employees’ training? Does your business have a plan for its workforce, and know when key workers will likely retire and who will fill their roles?
If your business wants to offer educational sessions, such as elder-care seminars, but doesn’t have enough older employees to make it feasible, consider working with other businesses in your area to make it happen.
[bdnvideo id= 1860119]