Helping disabled seniors stay in their homes

September 27th, 2019
Peggy Noble at a Metro In Home Solutions event

Peggy Noble is a stalwart in the College Park neighborhood in northwest Detroit. She’s been in her home there for 42 years. She also heads the community association, organizing activities to strengthen the neighborhood and helping to secure needed resources.

Peggy is a retired social worker and a widow. She’s worked hard and overcome many challenges to keep her home. She is now 77 and is experiencing age-related issues that affect her mobility.

“I was so afraid of falling in my house and I had been unable to use my bathtub for four years,” Peggy said.

Peggy has dedicated her life to helping others, but to remain comfortably in her home she needed help herself. The help came from Metro In-Home Solutions (Metro IHS).

Metro IHS provides quality and affordable home modifications to enable seniors and persons with disabilities to live safely and independently in their homes. It is a social enterprise formed though the partnership of Southwest Solutions, Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, Jewish Family Service of Metro Detroit, and Hartford Community Development Corporation. Since 2016, when Metro IHS began its work, and through the end of this year, the enterprise will have helped 86 seniors with home improvements so they can “age in place.”

“Over 90% of all seniors want to stay in their homes rather than move to senior living,” said Gary Gray, who directs Metro IHS. “The benefits of aging in place are significant for seniors and for society. Seniors who are able to stay in their homes are happier, healthier and less susceptible to illness, more independent, and more connected to their family, friends and community. The cost of enabling seniors to age in place is a fraction of the cost for nursing home care,  assisted living or hospital stays.”

Metro IHS installed handrails, a walk-in bathtub and other modifications in Peggy’s home.

“It’s made a great difference in my life and I am very thankful,” Peggy said at a recent Metro IHS partnership gathering.

The work on Peggy’s home cost about $15,000 and was covered through a special grant initiative called the Accessibility Modification Program (AMP), which is administered by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis. Applications for the AMP grants are processed by local banks that partner with Metro IHS. A limited number of grants are available to seniors and individuals with disabilities, and applicants must meet the low-income and other eligibility requirements. Grant funds are exhausted for this year, and Metro IHS will be partnering with a local bank to apply for the AMP next year.

Metro IHS installed a walk-in tub at Na’imah Karim-Daniel’s home

Ultimately, Metro IHS hopes to persuade “third party payers” (insurance companies, health plans, and governmental agencies) to pay for accessible home modifications so that many more seniors can continue to live in their homes for as long as possible. This effort is particularly important given demographic trends in our country and communities. In southeast Michigan today, 1 of every 7 residents is 65 or older. In a decade, 1 of every 4 residents will be a senior citizen.

The growing need for “aging in place” initiatives is clear, and society must commit to policies and the resources to address that need to benefit the quality of life of seniors and to reduce costs to the healthcare and social services systems.

To learn more about Metro IHS, email Gary Gray.

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