A Little Background
It all started when...
In January, 2014 House Speaker Mark Eves and the Maine Council on Aging hosted a Summit on Aging to seek input from seniors, community members and providers. Kennebunk resident, Molly Hoadley, a retired Licensed Clinical Psychological Counselor, participated and was appointed community representative to a new subcommittee, "Age Friendly Communities".
After she and her spouse investigated long-term care insurance costs and coverages, they decided instead to invest personal funds to make Kennebunk an Age-Friendly Community. In August, she established No Place Like Home. and in early September York County Community Action Corporation (YCCAC) became the fiscal sponsor. al salons to attract visibility, volunteers and investors.
Since then NPLH has:
• Formed a working group with public, private and nonprofit groups (Senior Center, A Place to Start, Home Instead, Comfort Keepers, Visiting Nurses, and independent home-based providers, Southern Maine Agency on Aging, Town Planner, YCCAC). Home Instead hosted in September and the Senior Center will host in October.
• Joined the Southern Maine Healthcare Network Group (SMHNG), a 10-year old network (comprising hospitals; rehabilitation, assisted living, and home care agencies) meeting monthly to share information.
• Recruited a highly experienced retired geriatrician to the board.
• Consulted with experts in aging, demographics, transportation and rural issues in Maine (CEI, Elder Ombudsman, Independent Transportation Network, Rural Health Partners).
• Briefed local candidates for Maine legislature on aging in place.
• Held a “senior salon” with 4 local senior leaders; two will host additional salons to attract visibility, volunteers and investors.
• Been invited by U Maine to be pilot site to test adaptive technology for seniors.
• Joined learning communities (LC) in Maine: Community-Based Initiatives LC funded by Maine Health Access Foundation, which includes “Thriving in Place” (TIP) to improve care coordination for high risk people.
Baby boomers are fueling a rise in aging Americans and increasing pressure on entitlement programs, health care, housing and transportation. Shortages are expected in the working age population able to meet these needs. By 2030, people over 65 will comprise 20% of all Americans, and 25% of all Mainers. Maine is the most rural state in the nation, has the highest median age (48); one of the highest populations of baby boomers and disability rates; and 10% ofMainers 65+ live in poverty. In Kennebunk, 22% of the population (2428) are over 65. Another 5% are over 55 (1784). Currently, 21% of Kennebunk households have incomes below $25,000.
Nationwide, only 10-15% of Americans have families able to care for seniors and the financial means to do so. Further, assisted living and nursing home stock is inadequate. AARP reports 89% of seniors want to age at home. Their ability to do so is undermined by issues of home safety and maintenance, few transportation options, and mobility barriers in the community. Many need help filling pill boxes, checking blood pressure, paying utility bills, understanding medical instructions, operating home appliances, and maintaining nutrition, fitness and social contact. Such low-cost, preventative, “non-medical” services are not reimbursable by insurance and Medicare. Yet, lack of attention to them often leads to costly medical events/complications that land seniors in the hospital. It leaves many seniors socially isolated (Full Circle America reports that loneliness among seniors increases functional decline by 59% and rate of death by 45%).
The “Silver Tsunami” brings good news as well: aging boomers are an under-utilized asset with a wealth of experience. Many are well educated, civically engaged, energetic and will be active far longer than prior generations. No Place Like Home will mobilize and channel Kennebunk’s senior resources back into the community to ensure it is “age-rich” as well as age friendly.