by Elisa Ingoldby
May is considered “Older Americans Month,”and this year’s theme was, “Engage at Every Age.” It was established in 1963 when President John Kennedy and the National Council of Senior Citizens had interest and concern for this growing population. Historically, Older Americans Month has been a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older people living in this great land we call America, but in particular those who defended our country. Now with the senior tsunami (all those baby boomers reaching 65), it has become more of a recognition of contributions or support this population has made to society and to live life well.
In 1963 there were only 17 million Americans age 65, compared to in 2020, where it is predicted there will be 56.4 million people aged 65 and over. In those days, a third of seniors were living in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. Since the recognition of this population began, there are now many programs serving people in this age bracket.
One particular program used widely is called HBCS (Home Based Community Services.) This government program, supported through Medicaid dollars, helps seniors who are home bound and need services such as home modifications for a disability, respect care or a homemaker who can provide personal care helping with active daily living skills (ADL’s), a term I’ve used often in past articles.
To help individuals remain independent, HBCS can also assist with adult day services (a place to go for adults who need more socialization services), wheelchair vans, and personal emergency response call buttons and medication management boxes for compliance with taking medications.
Another service option of HBCS is called, “CDASS” (Consumer Directed Attendant Support Services.) With this program, as well as HBCS, people work closely with a case manager to determine needs and eligibility to get help. However, with CDASS, individuals are empowered to hire, train and managed their own attendants assisting them with care verses with HBCS services, a person will pick from a list of “providers” who provide a particular service for them. Especially with homemaker and personal care attendant services, people can pick family or friends to take care of them in the CDASS program.
Wherever you are in age, young, middle or older, “engage at every age” and find someone to celebrate an older person’s life, not just in May, but every day!