by Kathryn Larlee, Attorney
This post is part two of a series of blog posts discussing the importance of senior independence in our communities. Part one can be found here.
“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth—and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up—that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
For many people, there is a heightened sense of that limited time as they age and as they experience the loss of friends and family members. For many seniors, the desire for quality of life and for independence becomes acute. To walk the hallways of a familiar home that is alive with memories, to hear the rain on the roof, to watch the moonlight sparkle on water; these are experiences that carry meaning and depth, that make life worthwhile.
Although these things cost nothing, family members become worried when a senior loses a sense of balance, or becomes weak, and begin to consider moving their relative to a place where that person can be watched, and taken care of. However, more families now want to balance the senior’s need for independence with their own need to be assured of the senior’s safety and wellbeing.
There are many alternatives to nursing home care for people who are seeking such a balance. Under the Older Americans Act of 1965, the federal government is empowered to provide funding to the states for services for individuals over the age of 60.
A few of these programs in Michigan are:
- MI Choice Waiver Program (provides funds to allow a person to stay in his/her home and also receive needed care from a care provider);
- Meals on Wheels (provides meals to seniors who may not be able to get out, or prepare meals);
- Department of Human Services – Independent Living Program (provides for non-medical services and for Medicaid services
- Independent and Assisted Living Communities (provide apartment living with varying levels of care and support);
- Office of Services to the Aging (provides services, referrals, and resources that support families and seniors);
- Community for a Lifetime Program (helps people “age in place” in a setting of their choice).
These a just a few of the options available to people who want to “age in place” and for their families. In addition, simple steps like providing rails in a home, having a bathroom on the first floor of a two story house, having support from an assistance animal, and altering stairs to make them more accessible go a long way in giving a person the chance to stay at home and to live independently.
Kathryn Larlee is a licensed Michigan attorney who assists the Mid-America Pension Rights Project with research, appeals, and client support. Ms. Larlee also works on the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors providing advice and support to seniors on a wide range of legal issues. Ms. Larlee is a graduate of Michigan State University College of Law and worked with the Chance at Childhood Clinic at MSU before joining Elder Law of Michigan. Ms. Larlee began with Elder Law as a Legal Intern in 2013 and continued to work as a volunteer until she joined Elder Law of Michigan full-time in August 2014.