“Aging in Boston” report calls for coordinated senior services

May 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

At the current rate, one-fifth of Boston’s population will be age 60 or older by 2030.

That’s one of the many findings in “Aging in Boston,” a report released this spring by the City of Boston’s Commission on Affairs of the Elderly and the Gerontology Institute at UMass Boston. The report offers a glimpse into the key issues affecting seniors in Boston and identifies potential challenges relating to health and caregiving, social engagement, income security, and housing.

The study states that it is very common for seniors—especially those over the age of 80—to report that they have difficulty living independently and have trouble running errands, visiting doctor’s offices, and shopping. In addition, the report touches on the importance of managing chronic diseases for improving quality of life for seniors and reducing the financial burden that comes with frequent medical visits and medications.

A significant portion of the report focused on how access to needed services can have a substantial impact on the quality of life for vulnerable seniors:

“Those with disability, especially self-care or independent living disability, are at greater risk of needing caregiver support. These needs may be met informally by family members and friends, but if formal supports must be purchased they can be out of reach financially for many who need them…Opportunities to move to a more adapted home or to modify the existing home may be limited, due to affordability constraints and the lack of appropriate housing…Transportation can also be a special challenge for seniors with disability. In the absence of assistance, some seniors are not able to take advantage of Boston’s public transportation system. Lacking transportation, some seniors may be unable to participate in activities they enjoy and value, in some cases resulting in isolation and reduced quality of life.”

Like many organizations that serve the senior population, Commonwealth Care Alliance has first-hand knowledge of the importance of coordinating services. For example, Commonwealth Care Alliance’s Senior Care Options program employs a care model to ensure that members are able to age more independently with access to the special services they require. These services include transportation, homemaker/chore services, personal care attendant services, and companion services.

According to Lois Simon, President of Commonwealth Care Alliance, “we know that seniors want to stay in their homes and communities for as long as possible. As we age, living independently is very important to our sense of well-being and quality of live.” The best way to achieve this goal, Lois believes, “is to support elders by providing the services that they need and coordinating their care.”

Other key findings of the “Aging in Boston” report include:

  • By 2030, the number of 60+ Boston residents will jump from 88,000 to somewhere between 120,000 and 130,000.
  • In 2010, more than 50% of residents identified themselves as Hispanic, African-America, Asian, or another non-white race, making Boston a “minority majority” city.
  • Nearly 20% of Boston seniors have diabetes, and 58% are hypertensive.
  • 29% of Boston residents age 60-79 report at least one disability, 8% report two disabilities, and 7% experience three or more disabilities.
  • Median personal income for Bostonians age 60-79 is $18,000. Median household income for this group is $43,768.
  • Nearly four out of 10 Boston seniors live in households with total incomes under $25,000. One-third of Bostonians 65 and older rely exclusively on Social Security.
  • 48% of 60+ Boston residents live in rented homes, 28% live in mortgaged homes, and 24% own their homes free and clear.

What did you think were the key takeaways from the “Aging in Boston” report?

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