Supporting An Aging Population

One in five Americans will be 65 or older in 2030, when the last of the baby boomers hit the conventional retirement age. By 2056, the U.S. will be home to more seniors than kids under 18. As the “graying of America” is speeding up, as The New York Times recently put it, ACHP plans are running a range of creative and top-ranked initiatives to improve day-to-day life, provide health services and reduce medical costs for older adults.

Give2Get, a pilot program by Portland-based CareOregon, puts together seniors to share their company and help each other with day-to-day chores. After a background check, seniors are paired and might swap  an hour of cooking in exchange for an hour of cleaning, for example. Give2Get is based on the premise that many aspects of health depend on a support network – not something you can pick up at the pharmacy. CareOregon is currently collecting data on mental and physical health outcomes of the program.

The support network concept is equally important to Summit ElderCare, Fallon Health’s innovative program that allows elderly members to receive care from home instead of moving to a nursing home. Summit ElderCare is a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), meaning it relies on a coordinated team of doctors, nurses, social workers and therapists to provide individualized care plans for seniors. Summit ElderCare, the largest PACE program in New England and the fifth largest in the nation, streamlines solutions for individuals’ medical and social needs.

Tufts Health Plan has long been engaged in improving the health of its older members, not only through medical innovations, but also via its philanthropic partner, the Tufts Health Plan Foundation. Since 2009, the foundation has devoted nearly $13 million in grants to programs that help older adults live more meaningful lives. Last month, the foundation’s Future Philanthropists awarded grants to fund the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Aging Project’s LGBT Elders of Color outreach initiative, FriendshipWorks’ pet visitation program and other projects. In the past, the foundation has sponsored All Out Adventures, which organizes outdoor recreation programs for seniors.

ACHP plans are supporting a growing trend of older people pursuing and enjoying life in community. From the village movement to rooming together, seniors are finding new ways to live longer and happier by spending time with peers – who soon may be easier to come by.

– Sophie Schwadron