Page 10 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - June 2018 - 25-06
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Page 10
Senior Times - June 2018
By: Helen Guzzo, MSW, Manager, Calhoun County Senior Services
Home is a place of safety, it is a place to belong, and it is an expression of one’s self. Housing is a choice we make based on many emotional and financial considerations. Change is difficult and for many seniors making the choice to “Stay or Move?” is a hard decision. A special program to recognize May as Older American’s Month was presented by CareWell Services Southwest, along with sponsorship from other organizations in the aging network. A series of talks was presented by Canadian author Marie- Claude Giguère to educate about the consider- ations in making housing decisions for healthy and safe aging.
Marie-Claude Giguère’s main point was that planning ahead for changes in life make for easier transitions, whether you modify your existing home or move to a home more suit-
ed for possible mobility challenges and other changes aging brings.
Senior Services staff member, Rodna Stealy, has recently made a big switch in her life con- cerning her housing. After 45 years in a big house where she raised her family of three boys and hosted many family gatherings full of her grand- kids, she has moved to a smaller house which will be easier to maintain as she ages in place. She has gone through her stuff, giving away and selling things that are no longer needed. This was a deci- sion that took years to make and was an emotional roller coaster as it took time for the house to sell.
My in-laws moved to a two-bedroom condo when they retired at age 65, selling the large ranch house where they had raised their children. They also moved to a bigger city leaving their small town with limited healthcare options. In the larger area, there was also a vibrant senior center with exercise and travel programs. When they start-
ed experiencing greater health problems as they
neared age 80, they had their bathroom remodeled, removing the tub and enlarging the walk-in show- er. They added grab bars in the bathrooms and at the door from the garage.
To celebrate Older Americans Month, Calhoun County hosted a Centenarian Luncheon inviting the 45 seniors in the County who are turning,
or have already turned 100 in 2018, on May 17. Twenty-five Centenarians attended the birthday party. Many of these seniors were still living alone and managing well. Each has had to make differ- ent decisions on how to get needed support as they have moved through the life cycle.
As the population ages, new assisted living options are being built. Many condos have wait- ing lists in the area. It is income that determines what choices are available to seniors looking to make housing changes. There are groups in Albion and county-wide looking at the choices available for senior housing and asking how more housing options can be developed for people of all income levels.
In Calhoun County, for seniors, 65 and over, 9% live below 100% of poverty level (below $12,140 for an individual, or $16,460 for a cou- ple), and 11.6% live below 150% of poverty level (below $18,210 for an individual, or $24,690
for a couple). For many in retirement, income is generally fixed while expenses are not, and there is always the risk that seniors will outlive their
income. In Calhoun County, the mean retirement income is less than $20,000 a year.
Women generally have earned less during their working years, so have less in retirement. In 2016, 28.3% of seniors in Calhoun County had earnings from wages while 64% relied on Social Security for 90% or more of their income. Seniors are retiring with higher debt, less savings, and fewer pensions. At retirement, 61% still have debt; the median total debt is $40,900.
Seniors with the lowest incomes are in need
of affordable housing with services available as needed to age in place. Statewide, the demograph- ic group with the largest increase in homelessness from 2014-2016 was seniors, aged 55+, climbing from 7,282 in 2014 to 7,919 in 2016. In Calhoun County, homelessness among seniors, age 62 and over also increased from 52 in 2014, to coinciden- tally 75 in both 2015 and 2016, and 82 in 2017. Older homeless individuals are predominately males.
The Senior Millage supports seniors in main- taining their housing by offering low-income homeowners home heating assistance and minor home repair programs through Community Action, (269) 965-7766. Legal Assistance often is housing related and is available through Legal Services at (269) 965-3951. One-time assistance with home maintenance chores is also available for low-in- come seniors through the Handy Helper program run by Senior Services of Southwest Michigan at 1-866-200-8877.
Safe and affordable housing is the basic build- ing block for thriving neighborhoods and commu- nity. As you age, be intentional about preparing your housing to meet the changes that aging will bring.
Helen Guzzo, MSW, is the Manager of Calhoun County Senior Services, which funds a variety of services for residents age 60 and over with Senior Millage tax dollars. To learn more call
(269) 781-0846.
FamiLY FarmDaYs
Free Event,
Open To The
• Animal Demonstrations including Rabbit Agility
• Complimentary Lunch
• Ice Cream Truck
• Trail Rides
• Pooch Smooch Fundraiser
for Miles for Memories
• Calhoun County 4H
• Mini Petting Area
Call 269-969-4000 for more information. Located at 14420 South Helmer Road, Battle Creek
JUNE 30 Noon to 4pm
LAKEVIEW ASSISTED LIVING 14661 Helmer Rd. South • Battle Creek
Heritage Assisted Living & Reflections Memory Care Parking Lots
REFLECTIONS MEMORY CARE 14316 Helmer Rd. South • Battle Creek
HERITAGE ASSISTED LIVING 14420 Helmer Rd. South • Battle Creek

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