When reading the latest newsletter from Leading Age-National, I found an article written by Dr. Robyn Stone, Executive Director, LeadingAge Center for Applied Research and Senior Vice President of Research, discussing the need to bring a variety of services and supports to lower-income older adults. She states that as providers we have a keen responsibility to use our current housing infrastructure as a platform for delivering services and programs that support our residents. Excerpt taken from her article:
Housing as a Platform for Wellness
Tapping into the health-promoting potential of housing properties becomes even more critical when you consider research showing that older adults living in subsidized housing are extremely vulnerable:
- They are more likely to be eligible for both Medicare (due to age) and Medicaid (due to low income).
- They are also more likely to be sicker than their counterparts living in the community.
These research findings illustrate the very real challenges we face. But they also give us an incredible opportunity to view our existing housing infrastructure as a platform for delivering critically important services and supports to low-income older adults of how the availability of services and programs in affordable senior housing properties could help improve the health of older people, and allow them to age in community instead of expensive care settings. From a model in Vermont it is documented that housing with services is slowing the growth of health care spending..
LeadingAge would like to see housing-based service hubs created in every single American community – urban, suburban, and rural. Affordable senior housing properties are especially suited to this role because they already have a tremendous infrastructure for promoting health.
- Many of these properties have service coordinators who are trained to connect residents with community resources that can address their health and service needs.
- Most have community spaces that could be used to conduct wellness programs and host primary care clinics or other health-related services.
- Housing properties can offer economies of scale to service agencies and health care providers that want to bring programs and services to large numbers of older people living under one roof.
Out of the Shadows
Low-income older adults depend on LeadingAge members for a variety of services and supports. We also have a responsibility to give low-income elders a strong voice in decisions that affect them. We need to make sure that the challenges these elders face are adequately addressed at all levels of government, particularly when decisions are being made about housing, transportation, health, workforce, economic development, environmental contamination, and poverty. In short, we need to bring low-income elders out of the shadows so they can join the rest of us in pursuing good health, financial stability, and quality of life.