It’s pretty basic. When older adults are asked what they value, their primary need is food. And next on the short list is transportation, followed by maintenance on their homes if they intend to remain independent, “aging in place”. I prefer the expression “aging in community, with support”.
Our nonprofit partner, Valley Outreach, can assist with food support, including delivering to homes with the Mobile Choice program. Individuals with limited mobility due to age, health and/or disability can have food delivered to their home monthly. Volunteers call Mobile Choice clients the morning of delivery to talk through the client’s needs based on the standard shopping list along with a variety of produce, dairy and meat choices. The food is then packed and delivered to the client within 2-3 hours. The program is open to those on a limited income or in crisis.
When it comes to support with transportation, Community Thread has 50 years of connecting people to volunteers who are willing to give them a ride. Community Thread started when a group of concerned citizens identified a problem: people no longer able to drive needed transportation to medical appointments. These good citizens trusted that they lived in a caring community where volunteers could meet this need. That was in 1967 and it was the founding principle of Community Thread: to harness the passion of the community to help others, creating a sense of belonging while inspiring people to do good for others. Now, thanks to the help of 45 volunteers, 740 rides to medical appointments were provided in 2016.
Home maintenance needs rise to the top of the support list, and again, volunteers who are generous with their time and skills are stepping up to help. Community Thread’s Chore Services helps adults and individuals with disabilities of any age in the Stillwater School District remain safely in their homes by connecting them with volunteers who assist with home maintenance projects. This includes yard work, light cleaning and small repairs. Some services are provided on an ongoing basis, such as monthly cleaning; others are one-time or short-term services depending on the availability of the volunteer. Last year, chore service volunteers donated 300 hours to help older and disabled adults to live independently.
Providing these support services will become even more essential given the exploding population of older adults. Minnesota boasts the most senior housing units per elderly resident in the country and state efforts are focused on persuading seniors to remain in their homes as long as possible.
In Washington County, the growth of the senior population is 2.5 times faster than the statewide rate. In addition, approximately 36% of Washington County seniors lived by themselves in 2010, higher than the state average of 30%. Most seniors will remain at home until age 85 and to do so, many will need the support of the entire community array of providers, both paid and volunteer.
To learn more about how to receive Transportation and Chore Services, or how to become a volunteer, contact Community Thread at 651-439-7434. For food support, contact Valley Outreach at 651-430-2739 for more information. Because aging well, in community, will require these supports.
By Sally Anderson