By Bistra Nikiforova and Sylvia Harkins
Many of us – the readers of Amjambo Africa – are first- and second-generation Americans. We come from countries where people are cared for by their children and grandchildren when they age. This is how it has always been: parents take care of their children, and their children take care of them when they get old.
In America, the multigenerational model where parents, children, and grandchildren live under the same roof has become rare. Often, children move away for college or a job. Or perhaps an older adult has no children at all – or one who is not in this country. This means somebody else needs to provide services. A number of institutions and programs exist to help both the aging parents and their children maintain a reasonable quality of life.
Below are some kinds of institutions and programs. Some are generally free or covered by insurance, others could have long waitlists, and still others may come with a significant price tag.
Some types of residential options:
Adult day programs are designed for people with memory loss. They include activities that support physical and cognitive health.
Age-friendly communities have policies and facilities in place to support people of any age to live comfortably there.
Aging in place is the opportunity for a person to stay at their home as they age and maintain quality of life with the support of supplementary services.
Assisted living facilities offer support with daily tasks in an independent living facility.
Independent living facilities provide a full range of services, from diet-specific meals to group activities.
In-home support programs through home care agencies provide caregivers who help with a variety of tasks, from routine housekeeping to grocery shopping and laundry.
Nursing homes serve older adults and others who require monitoring and medical assistance.
Some types of services:
Home-delivered meal programs deliver diet-specific meals to those who can no longer prepare meals or who have a hard time leaving their homes to get groceries.
Hospice is comfort care for people facing a terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or less.
Home health agencies provide skilled nursing and other therapeutic services.
Legal services for older adults provide low- to no-cost legal support to older adults, including defense in cases of elder abuse.
Medicare counseling by trained Medicare experts helps people with their Medicare insurance plans.
Transportation agencies transport people who cannot drive to doctors’ appointments, community centers, shopping, and places of worship.
Certainly enjoying life past retirement – the so-called “golden years” – is a little bit easier when we know that there are resources, programs, and funds available to support us. If you need information or are seeking support, we suggest you contact your local Area Agency on Aging. To find which one serves your area, visit the Maine Association for Area Agencies on Aging (maine4a.org) website.