A few years ago, a study, "Aging in Place: A State Survey of Livability Policies and Practices" was written by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the AARP Public Policy Institute.
The report found that nearly 90 percent of people over age 65 wanted to remain in their homes for as long as possible. It also found that 80 percent of the people believed that their present home would be where they would always live.
In order for those wishes to become reality, programs that enable seniors to live safely so that they can "age in place," are needed. Locally, because Williamsburg is a retirement destination, the importance of having resources in place is imperative.
During a recent forum "Improving Eldercare through Education" held at Williamsburg Landing, information regarding the need for services for seniors was underscored by various experts.
It's estimated that by 2030, approximately 30 percent of greater Williamsburg's population will be over 65. To meet the demands of what's been deemed the "silver tsunami," programs have been developed, including "ChooseHome," which represents a partnership between Williamsburg Landing and Riverside.
The idea of ChooseHome has been in the works for a couple of years. Reservations for locals to take part began last year. Now, the program is poised for launch.
At its crux, the program provides services to older adults who want to remain in their homes while still having the benefits of continuing care services. By bringing together all the services needed to age in place safely, it allows seniors to remain in their homes regardless of their long term care needs.
"If you ask the average person who is 65 or older what their long term care plan is, they don't know," said Kathy Kammer, senior director of community relations for Williamsburg Landing. "That is the crux of the matter. 59 percent of them think their plan is to depend on the help of family and friends, but in reality in today's world, kids may live far away and they can't help when it is needed and the network is stressed."
"In many cases the responsibility of caring for an aging parent goes to the oldest daughter," said Jennifer Roberts, director of the ChooseHome program. "We had someone come in recently who said that her daughter was going to help her. My question is "Is your daughter equipped to navigate the healthcare system?"
Roberts said that approximately 75 percent of people age 65 and older would require some type of long term care. ChooseHome, helps people plan for and coordinate their long term care through a relationship with a Personal Services Coordinator. The coordinators work with clients to identify goals, develop strategies to achieve them, and orchestrate the services needed to support those goals. As needs change, services ramp up.
"We are a retirement community without walls," Roberts said. "The Personal Services Coordinator is like a GPS. They are not just showing you the way, they are also providing information about any detours that may arise along the way."
"ChooseHome is everything you would get at Williamsburg Landing, but you would get it at home," Kammer said.
Services through the program are comprehensive, running the gamut from someone to come in and help with meals to providing transportation to medical appointments or the store. If the need eventually arises for facility-based care, there is access to it.
There are four membership plans available. The plans and terms of coverage are designed to meet specific situations. The program requires an entrance fee and a monthly fee. The fees vary based on the age of the person entering, the scope of the plan chosen and the duration of the coverage.
Roberts said there isn't a limit on how many clients can participate, because services are provided in homes. Clients can pick and choose of the kind of services they need and want that are in line with their budget.
Kammer and Roberts have been talking up the program at various places throughout greater Williamsburg and beyond. ChooseHome will be among the exhibitors in the SeniorAdvocate Active Aging Expo that is sold out this week at Ford's Colony.
"Aging in place is on everyone's mind," Kammer said. "People are asking, 'How do we sty in our home?' So we tell them about the options they have."
Published: February 16, 2015