Seniors

Strategies that help seniors age in place on a fixed income, stay healthy and maintain social connections will benefit individuals, families and communities.

  • Expand aging-in-place supports for seniors.
  • Increase transportation options and mobility services for seniors.
  • Expand access to quality community health services for seniors.
  • Why This Strategy Matters

    The population of adults age 65 and over in Buffalo Niagara is increasing, and there are now over 63,000 older adults in the region with a disability. Many older adults, including those with disabilities, prefer to remain in their own home for as long as they are able, according to insights from residents. For these older adults, having access to services that allow them to live comfortably at home and maintain their quality of life is vital. Proper planning for aging in place is critical. Expanding services that help older adults prepare to age in place, by planning for finances, changes in health, mobility challenges, and other concerns, are integral to ensure they maintain their quality of life for as long as possible.

  • Potential Action Steps

    Explore the possibility of starting up a faith-based model of service, such as Hearts and Hands, offering a range of no-cost services to that enable vulnerable seniors to age in place.

    Increase awareness and access by seniors to affordable services for aging in place available through volunteer-based programs, church-based outreach programs, and area colleges and universities. Distribute this information through senior centers, senior programs, FeedMore WNY, doctor offices, and other community based organizations.

    Raise awareness and participation in senior dining programs, including Erie County's new congregate dining program which offers restaurant options. Increase participation by restaurants that are easily accessible by older adults, or are located near public transit routes.

    Engage local media in raising awareness of valuable programs and services for older adults.

    Explore and raise awareness of low-cost options for using technology that supports seniors in aging in place with meal and grocery delivery, pet food delivery, online communications with health care providers, and more. Raise awareness of low-cost, or free shipping and delivery services, including discounts for individuals with Medicaid and Electronic Benefit Transfers (EBT).

  • Potential Actors in the Community

    Housing service providers
    Senior service providers/senior centers
    Media
    Transportation service providers
    Religious organizations
    Businesses
    Local governments

Models to Consider

  • Hearts and Hands

    Various locations in Erie and Niagara Counties

    Hearts and Hands Faith in Action fills gaps in transportation for vulnerable individuals in several rural communities in Erie and Niagara Counties, including its home base in Amherst and four branch sites that serve other, more rural communities of Erie County. Although its more than 350 volunteers are trained to deliver a variety of services, door-to-door transportation is the service most requested. Funded through donations, grants, contracts, and fundraising, Heart and Hands is able to provide all of its services at no expense to the recipient. In 2019, Heart and Hands expanded services into Kenmore and Tonawanda.

    hnhcares.org
  • Canopy of Neighbors

    Buffalo, NY

    Canopy of Neighbors is a member-based non-profit organization that helps people 62 and older age in place by providing transportation and social interaction. Using a team of volunteers, Canopy of Neighbors offers members transportation to medical, social, and other appointments and facilitates regularly scheduled events like movie and theater outings, workshops for writing and art, and mindfulness seminars. Volunteers also assist members with household maintenance and repairs, in addition to other small tasks around the home. The organization also offers to call every member on a weekly basis to check-in and take requests for transportation and other assistance. A variety of membership types are available based on an individual's needs. A single membership costs $400 per year, or $600 for a couple, but residents making less than $39,000 per year are eligible for memberships at $120 per year. Currently, Canopy of Neighbors only serves residents in ZIP codes 14209 and 14222 as well as in the city’s West Side, East Side, Waterfront, and in North Buffalo neighborhoods, but the organization would like to cover the entire City of Buffalo in the future.

    canopy.clubexpress.com
  • Why This Strategy Matters

    Many destinations in the region are only accessible by car. This can make everyday trips, like getting to the doctor or supermarket, difficult for many older adults, especially the 63,000 with a disability, which may impair their ability to drive, or the nearly 17,000 others living in poverty who may not be able to afford their own car. The region has public transit and paratransit as an option, but time constraints and service limitations do not allow older adults to move around as they need, based on insights from residents. Increasing transportation options, and catering mobility services to the needs of seniors, can allow older adults to get around without having to drive themselves, enabling them to age in place while maintaining their quality of life.

  • Potential Action Steps

    Subsidize ride sharing for seniors. Provide senior specific transit cards for discounted taxi, public transit, or ride sharing trips.

    Turn paratransit into an on-demand service like Lyft or Uber.

    Invest in public transit and amenities that make taking a bus easier for older residents, such as benches and leaning bars at stops, and pedestrian friendly streets, with safety features like sidewalks, crosswalks, traffic lights, etc.

    Explore and expand door-to-door, volunteer-based options, especially for travel to social events that reduce senior isolation.

    Advocate for policies that expand the use of volunteer-based options, like limited liability for van drivers, tax credits for volunteers, or "trip banking" that allows volunteer drivers to accumulate credit for future rides for themselves.

  • Potential Actors in the Community

    NFTA
    Transportation service providers
    Senior service providers/senior centers
    Private ride-sharing businesses
    Local governments
    Volunteers
    Religious organizations

Models to Consider

  • The Ride

    The RIDE

    Boston, MA

    The RIDE is a Boston area on-demand paratransit service operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). They offer paratransit rides in compliance with the ADA at discounted rates for those who qualify. It operates under a similar schedule as the MBTA and is available in 58 cities and towns in the greater Boston region. This door-to-door shared-ride paratransit service is similar to the NFTA PAL program, but is unique in that it is currently offering a pilot program in conjunction with Lyft, Uber, and Curb, allowing for same day, instant booking, faster trips, shorter wait times, and wheelchair-accessible vehicles, at a reduced rate. The pilot program with ride-sharing companies has been extended until the end of March 2020.

    mbta.com/accessibility/the-ride
  • Mountain Empire Older Citizens, Inc. (MEOC)

    Select counties in southwestern Virginia

    Mountain Empire Older Citizens (MEOC) Transit launched in 1974 with an annual budget of $12,500 to provide services to older adults in a rural region of southwestern Virginia. In the time since, the organization has grown its annual budget to $14 million and now takes a holistic approach to supporting residents in the region, especially older adults, by offering a full array of social services. MEOC’s transit system is a national model for rural public transportation by catering its services to those with mobility challenges. MEOC offers transportation to anyone in its nearly 1,400 square mile service area upon request, given a 24-hour notice. In 2012, MEOC launched Saturday services with the support of state funding, earning an award from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. A key to its success has been partnering with community organizations, local governments, state departments, and garnering donations from local citizens.

    meoc.org/transportationmeoc.htm
  • Why This Strategy Matters

    Over 63,000 older adults (age 65+) in Buffalo Niagara live with a disability. These seniors, and many others, are dependent on regular medical services, but often do not have a reliable way to receive those services. Community health services deliver comprehensive health care support through a coordinated team of medical professionals who reach patients directly in their community, often at people's homes. By expanding community health services, seniors can have direct access to health care that allows them to receive the quality services they need. This would also limit the need for seniors to travel to hospitals and doctor's offices, and increase the time that providers can dedicate to individual patients.

  • Potential Action Steps

    Expand home care services for seniors. Raise awareness of programs available under Medicaid and Veterans health insurance where family members can get paid as a caregiver.

    Have social workers assist seniors with Medicare application, as well as applications for other programs and services such as SNAP, HEAP and EPIC (Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program).

    Organize community-based health events for older adults. Use these events to bring services into the community such as eye exams, eyeglass fittings, and dental checks. Provide transportation for seniors to the event.

    Explore the use of telemedicine and technology, such as mobile health smartphone apps, to expand access to health care services in rural communities, such as diagnostic testing, medical appointments, and consultations with specialists.

    Raise awareness of Medicaid's Cash & Counseling program. It is available in select states, including New York, and allows seniors to receive in-home care from a family member, or other selected caregiver, who is paid through Medicaid for services rendered. This program can be used to secure in-home personal care or home health care. While spouses cannot be retained as a paid caregiver, adult children, siblings or other relatives can.

  • Potential Actors in the Community

    Senior services providers/senior centers
    Community health centers
    Health services providers
    Medicaid/Medicare
    Technology companies
    Media

Models to Consider

  • Oak Street Health

    Oak Street Health

    Various location across the U.S.

    Oak Street Health (OSH) is a healthcare provider offering health services to individuals with Medicare. They were founded in 2013 with the mission of providing “well care” not “sick care” and keeping patients healthy and out of hospitals. They provide transportation for patients who are not mobile, activities in community spaces at their centers that promote healthy lifestyles, doctors that dedicate additional time to getting to know patients at a more personal level, assistance navigating Medicare benefits, 24/7 patient hotline, and same-day and next-day appointments. This approach to primary care has lead to 40% fewer hospitalizations among OSH patients. There are over 40 locations across the midwest in Illinois, Philadelphia, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan.

    oakstreethealth.com
  • Christian Community Health Center

    Christian Community Health Center

    Chicago, IL

    Christian Community Health Center (CCHC) is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1991. Originally created to address the lack of healthcare in low-income communities in Chicago's south side, they have expanded into three clinics and a mobile health van providing a wide range of primary medical care and social services. Regardless of the patient's ability to pay, no one is turned down. This approach ensures that patients are treated comprehensively and the physical, mental, and social needs of residents are met. CCHC has Federal Public Health Service status, and receives funding from the US Department of Health and Human Services.

    cchc-online.org

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