Increasing numbers of western North Carolina’s senior citizens will now be safe at home thanks to Council on Aging of Buncombe County, Inc., or COA, and its newest community partners, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch.
The initiative, “Seniors Safe at Home,” results from the integration of multiple COA programs. The result is designed to remove impediments for Buncombe County’s aging adults who prefer to remain happily and safely in their homes for as long as possible.
A monetary gift of $2,000 from Bank of America and Merrill Lynch makes it possible to begin to extend these much-needed services to those senior citizens currently waiting for assistance. The programs making up the “Seniors Safe at Home” initiative include:
• “Heat relief” goes into effect during the summer months for those aging individuals without air conditioning.
• “In home aide” assists senior citizens who need help to remain at home, but who are not eligible for Medicaid services. This federally funded program supports independent living by helping eligible adults with tasks such as personal care, cleaning, and food preparation.
• “Call A Ride” matches individuals who are no longer able to maintain their independence with volunteer drivers so they can make appointments, go to the store, and leave the house for social engagements, or take part in community events.
• “Minor Home Repairs” addresses the health and safety needs for elders whose homes need minor repairs or adjustments so they can remain safely in their homes.
• Additional services include Medicare counseling, “Friendly Visiting,” 9-1-1 cell phones pre-set for emergency use, caregiver support, and food delivery to homebound, low-income elders.
COA plans to apportion the Bank of America & Merrill Lynch gift to expand services in Asheville and Buncombe County, while offering assistance to other agencies lacking services for senior adults. “We want to reach more people who need help,” says Eric Mills, director of development with COA. “With this particular funding from our Bank of America and Merrill Lynch partners, we hope to see an immediate increase in minor home repair outreach. “
For example, a COA worker can install a small ramp over one or two steps if a person needs a wheelchair to get into her home, or add safety bars in the bathroom, where the senior adult is at most risk for falls. Do-able projects such as these can go a long way toward insuring independence remains within reach as we age, says Mills.
Successful Aging and Corporate Partners
“This type of commitment to make the community stronger through the support of the ‘Seniors Safe at Home’ initiative is the mark of an exemplary partner,” says Wendy Marsh, executive director of COA.
“When we make it possible for families to care for aging loved ones, it increases economic stability for the entire family network, which in turns benefits the community at large.”
As western North Carolinians age, with more individuals aged 55 and older than 17 and under, community partners which understand the positive impact of helping older adults age successfully and stay in their home is vital to the future of vibrant, multi-generational communities, says Marsh. “With the support of partners like these, COA proves able to pull together the resources needed to increase quality of life and reduce costs associated with aging.”
Support for Seniors Benefits Local Economies Basically, supporting aging adults benefits families, which in turn benefits the local and regional consumer base, says Marsh. “Family incomes may already be stretched thin,” she says. “Initiatives like ‘Seniors Safe at Home’ make it possible for working caregivers to assist aging loved ones while ensuring economic stability for the whole family. We make it possible to increase choices for elder family members without depleting the resources needed to care for the next generation.”
Giving back to the community through organizations like Council on Aging of Buncombe County, Inc., makes the entire community stronger, she and Mills agree. That’s why now through the end of October, the agency’s focus is on building relationships with corporate sponsors who recognize the connection between economic viability and successful aging. “Generosity met with gratitude and a sincere desire to be of service – those are the relationships we value as we look to a future of successful aging,” says Marsh.
The Council on Aging of Buncombe County, Inc., is a 501C3 non-profit agency dedicated to assisting senior adults and their families with information, opportunities, and services that promote and enhance quality of life.
For more information, visit http://www.coabc.org, or call (828) 277-8288 to request assistance, volunteer, make a donation, or become a community partner.