State supports aging at home

Maryland Department of Aging Secretary Rona Kramer spoke July 17 at Delmarva Community Services, Inc. in Cambridge at a town hall meeting titled, “Innovations in Aging at Home.”

Maryland Department of Aging Secretary Rona Kramer spoke July 17 at Delmarva Community Services, Inc. in Cambridge at a town hall meeting titled, “Innovations in Aging at Home.”

CAMBRIDGE – A generation or two ago, folks could expect to work hard for 40 years, retire, and maybe not be around too long afterwards.

That’s not the case anymore. People are living longer, and often in better health, than they used to.

So as lifestyles change, ways of thinking might need to evolve as well.

We need to do better planning, we need to educate ourselves,” Maryland Department of Aging Secretary Rona Kramer said July 17 during a town hall meeting at Delmarva Community Services, Inc. The meeting was themed, “Innovations in Aging at Home.” It focused on three programs the state is launching to help Marylanders remain healthy and comfortable in their homes.

We in Maryland are innovating in ways no one else in the country is innovating,” Sec. Kramer said. The department’s goal is to help the state’s older residents to age well at home, rather than having to move on to higher levels of care, “and to enhance their quality of life while doing so,” a statement from the agency said.

What’s more,” Sec. Kramer said, “Once seniors are in nursing homes, it takes a mere two years, on average, for them to ‘spend down’ their hard-earned assets.”

Communities

for Life

The first program is called, “Maryland’s Communities for Life,” and involves a paid membership for a variety of services. A non-profit provider would coordinate maintenance visits to an elder’s home – important not only in keeping the house and its owner in good shape.

The maintenance worker would be a local technician, whose background would be checked by the provider to ensure the homeowner’s security. Another service would be checking a builder’s background and a proposed contract.

Contract fraud against Maryland’s older adults in huge,” Sec. Kramer said.

Also included in the new program will be “service navigation” assistance, in which a professional will provide the senior with advice on which services would be most useful; and transportation.

Fees for the service will be determined locally. Three are operating in the state, with wide variations in cost: In Ocean Pines, it’s $250 a year, while in Baltimore County, it’s about $400 a month.

The services should still represent a savings. “The fees will not be whatever they would be if you went out and got them yourself,” Sec. Kramer said.


Senior Call Check

The second program, “Senior Call Check,” has an elder receive a phone call every day, simply to be sure he or she is well.

Sec. Kramer said one of the issues faced by seniors living alone is falling, and then not being able to reach a phone. This program will ensure that an elderly Maryland is well enough to make it to a phone and speak.

Durable med

equipment

So a person has health issues and is prescribed certain pieces of medical equipment. That gear can take more than a year, Sec. Kramer said, to be approved by an insurance company and finally arrive.

The Department of Aging is putting together a program in which used, durable medical equipment will be sanitized, repaired if necessary, and distributed to sites around the state. This will not only provide a savings to the new owners, but will also get them the equipment they need quickly.

The programs are occurring at a time when the state’s senior population has already surpassed the number of students in school. In the meantime, “The federal government has flat-lined our funding,” Sec. Kramer said. “That’s why it’s so important to keep people healthy.”

For more information, visit www.aging.maryland.gov or call 1-844-627-5465 to connect with your local aging office.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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