main logo
Account Login

National News Roundup – June 25, 2024

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

tyre pressure

Studies: More Americans Prefer to Age in Place

Costs, zoning, accessibility, and transportation pose challenges.

The idea of living in a “senior” or “assisted living” community may appeal to some aging Americans, but for many this type of transition is not as desirable.

A study by a team at the University of Michigan found a whopping 88 percent of seniors surveyed preferred to “age in place” — staying in one’s home and making renovations or modifications to accommodate the realities of old age. A similar survey by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) put the number who prefer to age in place at 75 percent.

Either way, this is a major demographic group. The number of Americans 65 or older totals nearly 56 million, or one in every six Americans. Researchers on aging have found that within the past 20 years, the percentage of older adults living in nursing homes has declined while the percentage of older adults living in traditional housing has increased.

But aging in place has challenges that may require local governments to lend assistance. One issue is affordability. Grants can make a difference. Another problem local government can address is official red tape. Existing zoning laws in many communities may be a stumbling block if an older adult wants to remain within their neighborhood but find a smaller or more accessible unit. Finding housing in their current neighborhood that meets their needs can be challenging if single-family zoning or resistance to multifamily dwellings, such as supported living facilities, is an issue.

Government programs could also provide financial assistance or tax incentives to older adults who need to make home modifications. These updates often include grab bars, wheelchair accessibility, bedroom and/or bathroom modifications, and kitchen remodeling for safe access.

Access to transportation for healthcare, grocery shopping and general consumer shopping is another issue often requiring local government assistance, particularly in rural areas.

Please go here for an executive summary of the 2022 University of Michigan survey about aging in place.

(Sources: Forbes, Journals of Gerontology, Housing Matters, Daily Yonder, Next Avenue, UofM Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation)

More Cities Seeking Expanded 9-1-1 Services

Tapping social workers, other alternatives to police-only response.

St. Petersburg, Florida, has joined a growing number of cities expanding the services available to respond to urgent calls for help. In 2021, the city launched a pilot program called Community Assistance and Life Liaison (CALL). It enables 9-1-1 dispatchers to send social workers to respond to calls about non-crime emergencies such as mental health crises, complaints about the homeless population, school truancy, or suicide threats. The pilot was a success, and CALL has since become an essential and expanding emergency resource funded by the City Council.

Before the expanded scope of 9-1-1 service, St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway says many officers were sent to resolve problems that they weren’t trained to handle, but there was no other option. “You still need law enforcement out there to protect people,” Holloway says, “but you need people (trained) to help those going through a crisis who can do (provide needed help) better than law enforcement.”

Denver, Colorado, implemented a co-response program in 2016 in which licensed clinicians went out on calls with police officers. In 2020, it launched Support Team Assisted Response (STAR), a mobile crisis team that operates in partnership with the Denver Police Department.

Early on, according to Andrew Dameron, director of emergency communications for the city and County of Denver, police were concerned that they were going on calls with individuals who could get hurt or killed in the field and would need their protection. “What they found was that when these clinicians were taking the lead, oftentimes they got a much better outcome,” Dameron says. “They began to understand the benefit of having that resource.”

Dameron and Holloway both recognize the value of sending responders who are plugged into local resources and know where to send someone who is in crisis and in need of help. Social workers are also in a better position to create a feedback loop that can help law enforcement and other local agencies identify where there are cracks or gaps in their systems.

Adding non-police responders to emergency service resources can help a city’s liability risk, too. “It’s pretty clear that even with the wide variety of state laws, there does not seem to be any evidence that these programs are going to increase a city’s liability risk,” says Amos Irwin, a program director at LEAP – the nonprofit Law Enforcement Action Partnership. “Actually, it could decrease risk because armed officers are not being sent to calls that don’t involve criminal activity.”

(Source: Governing)

Contact Us for More Information

The above news items are provided for informational purposes and are not intended to reflect MMRMA opinions, coverage, or risk management recommendations.

Please contact Membership Services if you have specific risk control questions or concerns.