Aging in Place Conversation

Aging at Home 1Micki Dietrich and I led a conversation with community members who are involved with senior care and specifically interested in “aging in place” at the Abrahams Branch Library Meeting Room on October 29th.  Nebraska has a significant and growing population of aging adults (including baby boomers).  Many of these adults would prefer to age at home.  According to the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Center for Public Affairs and Research, the number of Nebraskans over 65 will grow more than 30% by 2020.  At this current rate of growth, services for this population will be stretched beyond their limits.  Since Douglas County has many agencies that offer services to aging adults, it would be beneficial for these organizations to streamline services and work together to provide new services.  Micki and I proposed to convene a meeting of key Douglas County organizations working with senior living services to look for opportunities to create connections and develop new services.

Aging in place, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”  We began our conversation with this definition written on the meeting room’s whiteboard so that the participants and facilitators would be working from a common definition.  We shared some basic information about the library’s grant and our meeting’s purpose, had the participants introduce themselves, and began our conversation.  We discussed why seniors choose to age in place, what issues face those aging in place, and what services are currently offered in our community.  We then moved on to discuss what their organizations need to develop new services and what the participants’ wish lists would be if they had unlimited resources.  Micki and I felt the meeting went very well as all the participants seemed engaged and interested throughout the conversation.

Aging at Home 2

Some things were unexpected.  It took the participants longer to complete the survey than we planned.  The conversation was also much shorter than we anticipated which left us wondering if we should have planned an optional discussion question.  However, looking back, we feel that the shorter conversation was actually beneficial.  Since we weren’t left scrambling for time at the end, we could answer more questions about thegrant and the process we’re working through. This grant conversation wound up being really great and may not have occurred if we had been closer on time.

We were surprised to find a need for organization within the aging community and so many participants open to working together in the future.  We were somewhat surprised that this conversation was new!  We partially expected our participants to show up and tell us they already had this situation under control with a taskforce or group in place for this purpose.  We were somewhat disappointed that we had a lot of trouble contacting key organizations and never received a response from some groups.  The conversation would have been even more fruitful and relevant had all the key providers attended the meeting.grant and the process we’re working through. This grant conversation wound up being really great and may not have occurred if we had been closer on time.

Posted by Megan Klein-Hewett, Facilitator-in-Training

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