The Impact of Advocacy: Supporting & Strengthening Resources for Seniors

The power to create change is one of the most important tools in any citizen’s tool belt and one of the best ways to make an impact is through advocacy. Advocacy allows people to support the causes that are most dear to them through conversations, letters, meetings, parades, and much more.

When it comes to older adults, Advocates for Senior Issues (AFSI) is a key organization in empowering seniors through education and advocacy. AFSI is a non-partisan group, and through monthly meetings, attendees are able to discuss issues that directly impact older adults. Topics include aging with independence, the expansion of community programs and services, and increasing access to affordable housing.

Recently AFSI and members of the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan visited Lansing, Michigan’s capitol, on Older Michiganians Day on May 1st to join in on state-wide advocacy efforts. This visit served as a great time to advocate for their current agenda which includes:

Supporting and strengthening the long-term care ombudsman program

The Long-Term Care Ombudsmen works with residents of licensed long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, homes for the aged, and adult foster care (AFC) homes with the goal of improving quality care for residents. Michigan currently ranks 50th out of 53 programs in our ratio of ombudsman staff to beds which is a problem advocates hope to rectify.

Supporting family and informal caregivers

Family caregivers provide essential care to older adults and loved ones. It is estimated that 1.73 million Michiganians provide an estimated 1.1 billion hours of voluntary care per year. The AFSI’s goal is to increase resources and services for these caregivers.

Expanding access to the MI Choice Medicaid Waiver Program

Michigan ranks near the bottom in the proportion of taxpayer dollars spent by states to provide long-term care through home and community-based services (HCBS) versus institutional care. The MI Choice Medicaid Waiver Program is an in-home service program that enables seniors and adults with a disability to receive support in their home rather than a nursing facility. The AFSI hopes to increase funding for this program.

Increasing access to home and community-based services

In Michigan, there are currently 6,161 seniors on waiting lists for essential non-Medicaid in-home services provided through Michigan’s Administration for Community Living Supports (ACLS). The AFSI is advocating for an increase in funding to support in-home personal care, home delivered meals, and more.

AFSI is a huge driver of change and advocacy for older adults because no one knows better what programs and services a senior needs than the seniors themselves”, shared AAAWM Director of Advocacy Sheri Haris. Learn more about AFSI and upcoming meetings here:
Pictured to left: Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan President and CEO, Kendrick Heinlein, alongside Speaker of the House, Joe Tate.