All I Want for Christmas Is for More Seniors to Live Safely at Home

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We live in a world with self-driving cars, where we can ask our phones to play our favorite tunes, and order eggnog delivered to our front door.

Surely, we can make sure our elders are living their best lives possible, too. That they can choose where they live, that housing is affordable, that they can access fresh produce from nearby grocery stores, and that transportation is available for those who no longer drive.

Making moves to support home care for Indiana seniors

I’m honored to be working in collaboration with Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) as a stakeholder to move Medicaid Home and Community-Based Waiver services to a managed care model in 2024. One of the overarching objectives of FSSA is to ensure more Medicaid funds are spent on home-based care for seniors, so more who want to age at home have the option to do so.

Although seniors overwhelmingly say they want to age in place, Medicaid spends more than 80 percent of public long-term care funds on institutional care, leaving less than 20 percent for at-home care. The system is out of balance. I’d love to click my heels three times and make all our wishes come true, but it’s not going to be that simple.

We must find solutions for two big challenges.

  1. We need more home health workers, including skilled nursing and aids who can help seniors and people with disabilities with everything from household tasks to personal hygiene.
  2. We also have a serious lack of affordable, senior housing throughout central Indiana.

Indiana: a place where all flourish

In my dream world, I envision more mixed-use communities for people 60 and older. These would include one-level homes sold at market rate and equally nice homes sold at subsidized rates. There would be homes or apartments for rent. The community would have walking trails, a grocery and a pharmacy. A community center could offer fitness equipment and classes, wellness activities and social events, where people of different social, economic and cultural backgrounds could come together and learn from one another. A shuttle would help those without transportation get to doctor’s offices, to houses of worship and other businesses. Home health aides would help those who need an extra hand, and healthy meals would be delivered to those who need them.

The reality is that too many people are residing in institutions, not because of physical ailments, but because they lack access to services like nutritious meals or transportation. They may also lack social supports to help them with common household tasks that you and I take for granted.

FSSA’s goal is to rebalance the Medicaid spend for home and community-based services so that 50 percent is utilized for those desirous of remaining in their own homes or communities, which is more affordable than institutional care. The average cost of institutional care in Indiana is estimated to be around $91,000 a year.

We need your involvement

I’ve been impressed with the work FSSA is doing and the collaborative conversations that are taking place with agencies like CICOA, insurance providers and other stakeholders, but we need and want more people willing to help. We need the support of state and local leaders. We need innovative people who can think creatively. We need more people willing to dream of a future in which our elders live their best lives possible.

If you want to be a part of the conversation, I want to hear from you!

CICOA President and CEO Tauhric Brown
Tauhric Brown

As President and CEO, Tauhric Brown uses his strategic vision and experience in the elderly and disability service industry to expand CICOA services and collaborative partnerships to better meet the needs of the vulnerable populations we serve. Before joining CICOA, Brown served as the chief operating officer for Senior Services, Inc. in Kalamazoo, Mich. His career started in the U.S. Army, and then he became a successful owner/operator for a multi-carrier wireless retail company. Inspired by his family and upbringing, he made the switch to the nonprofit world to fulfill his dream of improving the lives of others.

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