My mother always says that growing old isn’t for the faint of heart. Aging in a rural community is extra challenging. The peace and quiet (and distance from neighbors) that we enjoy here contributes to social isolation as we age. Social isolation is considered a major risk factor for illness. Healthy older communities need to have robust social networks and transport to social activities. County services struggle to meet these needs in rural areas.
The county’s Commission on Aging https://www.howardcountymd.gov/COA meets monthly to discuss this and other aging-related issues. They consistently identify the following areas of improvement for the county:
- transportation and access to new transport services, like Uber, for residents lacking smartphones and modern computer skills.
- access to county services and better integration of county and state services.
At a recent house party, we discussed aging-in-place issues. The group had some fantastic ideas. Here are some highlights:
- Set up a roommate referral program for fixed-income seniors who have spare bedrooms.
- Support technologies that can provide in-home care where it is difficult to find reliable caretakers.
- Provide a one-stop shop for all county and community services so that seniors can get help and community members can volunteer.
What are your ideas for helping our older residents stay social and connected to the community? We all in this together.