If I had $44 billion (that’s the amount Elon Musk paid to buy Twitter), I wouldn’t buy a social media platform, but I would allocate a decent amount of it to being heard. If I had an unlimited budget, I’d buy up TV and radio time, take out digital ads and employ an army of people to canvas neighborhoods to make sure every older adult in Central Indiana—plus their kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews—all know about available services in our community.
I’d make sure older adults and their loved ones know that CICOA has programs to help them navigate Medicare and Medicaid. And for those who meet eligibility requirements, we can connect them with in-home care, transportation to appointments, set up healthy home meal delivery, ensure their homes are accessible, and provide support to caregivers. I’d let them know about all the services our partners in the community offer, too, such as adult daycare services, food pantries, support groups and more.
Central Indiana Older Adults Need to Know About Available Services and Programs
I’ve been thinking a lot about access to information and services lately, not just because of the headlines about Twitter. I’ve been mining data from our 2021 Community Assessment Survey for Older Adults (CASOA) and discussing strategies to address community need with our leadership team. (You’ll find an earlier column about the CASOA survey here, and you can read the reports and watch my presentation here.)
Several findings were not surprising, such as the need for more affordable housing and access to reliable transportation. What was surprising was that only half of adults 60 and older across Central Indiana said they felt somewhat informed or very informed about services and activities available to them. About 4 in 10 older adults didn’t have access to information.
These stats were trending negatively from the previous CASOA surveys conducted in 2013 and 2017. Some of this may be the result of COVID, when community programs, senior meal sites and other activities were shuttered during the pandemic. Still, we need to figure out creative ways to make sure people know about the services we offer. Our goal is not to be Indiana’s best kept secret.
Speaking Up for Our Seniors
We must figure out how to make our voices louder, without having to spend millions of dollars, something a nonprofit with a limited budget simply cannot do.
I’m going to spend the next several weeks talking to local leaders to share the results of the survey and discuss the challenges seniors face. It’s not a one-size-fits all approach. While 60 percent of respondents in Johnson County said services for older adults are good or excellent, only 27 percent in Morgan County felt that way. Sixty percent of Hamilton County older adults gave transportation a positive rating, while 30 percent in Morgan County and 40 percent in Marion, Boone, Hancock and Shelby counties felt good about the ease and availability of transportation. Access to affordable housing was a concern across every county in Central Indiana.
We need to work together to develop ways to improve life for our oldest residents. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work putting in place needed programs and services, while also making sure communities know about the services that are available.
It’s a three-prong approach: Access, information and assistance.
We may not have Elon Musk’s bank account, but I think our community-caring Hoosiers can be just as creative to ensure older adults can remain in our community with access to the resources they need. As always, if you have ideas, we want to hear about them.
Dive into the findings: CASOA Reports and Statistics on Older Adults in Central Indiana
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.