A vast majority of older adults live in their own homes and communities and want to continue to do so. This lifestyle choice is called “aging in place.” However, it is a reality of life that everyone ages differently, and sometimes this means exploring various options for support. Planning ahead can be complicated. Your needs can change over time and it is best to try to get an understanding of the resources that are available before you or your loved one is in “crisis-mode.” Questions that commonly come up include: What needs to change to continue living at home? What support exists in the community? If you notice your loved one could use support, how do you get started?
This is where the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM) comes in with its various program options that are person-centered. We understand that individuals could require different support depending on their situation, there is no “one-size-fits-all” for aging. When someone calls us at (616) 456-5664 our Information and Assistance Specialists are on hand to fully understand a person’s unique situation and recommend the best fit of services. We serve nine-counties which include: Allegan, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Newaygo, and Osceola, working to connect older adults and their families to resources. A few of these program options are below:
Our Care Management program provides individuals with person-centered care that empowers individuals to age-in-place. Ongoing services include personal care, housekeeping, meals, respite, and transportation. In an initial assessment, the Care Manager is able to truly get to know an individual, coordinate their services, and connect them to partner agencies and community resources. Care Managers do more than oversee an individual’s care, they become their advocate, making sure their needs are met. Sometimes, just having someone in their corner cheering them on can be a driving force for a person’s confidence in maintaining their independence.
MI Choice Medicaid Waiver
MI Choice Medicaid Waiver is a long-term care program, providing in-home services to older adults and individuals with a disability who medically qualify for nursing home care. Through MI Choice, eligible adults receive Medicaid-covered services like those provided by nursing homes in their own home, the home of a loved one, and some community-based settings, all with the goal of helping them to live and age where they would wish.
Community Transition Services
Community Transition Services (CTS) provides individuals currently residing in a nursing facility with the opportunity to return to community-based living. This may be a home, an apartment, the home of a family member or friend, or an assisted living residence. A Transition Navigator will work with the individual from the initial assessment through to their transition back to the community.
AAAWM is the state-lead for the Dementia Friends Program which works to help individuals and organizations understand dementia and how to communicate effectively with an individual who has dementia. These one-and-a-half-hour sessions are available to anyone, whether you are a caregiver, a neighbor, grandchild, etc. all you need is the desire to help others. Dementia Friends sessions are currently being held virtually via the Zoom platform. You can see upcoming sessions here: www.aaawm.org/dfmi
Regular physical exercise is essential to prevent injuries, remain fit, and improve overall wellbeing. Our Healthy Aging programs are rooted in education with evidence-based class offerings to help with strength, balance, and fall prevention. Aside from fitness, the social aspect of the program allows older adults to build friendships and hold each other accountable as well. Classes are currently being held virtually via Zoom, you can learn more at www.aaawm.org/ha or call (616) 588-2580.
The Caregiver Resource Network brings together caregiving resources within our nine-county region in a collaboration of more than 100 organizations. Family Caregiver University (FCU) offers monthly classes (currently taking place online) for anyone in a caregiving role. These topics range from community resources, self-care, leisure activities, and more. FCU not only supports a caregiver on their journey, but it allows them to be a stronger caregiver for the loved one they support. More information can be found at www.caregiverresouce.net.
Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program
The Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP) is in place to provide support to older adults, their families, and caregivers working to navigate their insurance coverage. A counselor is on-hand to help them understand, access, and apply for Medicare, Traditional Medicare Part A and B, Part D prescription plans, Medigap plans, and Medicare Advantage. You can call MMAP at 1-800-803-7174 or email MMAP@aaawm.org.
Choices for Independence/Community Options Counseling
If you are unsure of where to get started, Choices for Independence and Community Options Counseling could be a good choice. They are both one-time consultations with a social worker to discuss resources in the community. The social worker will work with families so they may best understand their options and be made aware of the support systems that exist. Because these visits are curated for the client’s unique situation, the social worker can help with estimated costs of programs and finding which will fit best. The differentiating factor of the two programs is that Choices for Independence is for those living in their own homes and Community Options Counseling is for those living in a nursing facility, as AAAWM is the Local Contact Agency.
In addition to the programs listed above, we also partner with agencies throughout the community to provide older adults the services needed to age with independence and dignity. If you are interested in learning more, reach out at (616) 456-5664.