With about 200,000 people over the age of 65, Idaho has one of the smallest senior populations in the nation. However that number is 37% higher than it was in 2000, one of the biggest increases in the country. That growth is only expected to continue, leaving the Idaho Commission on Aging (ICOA) with a difficult task.
The agency’s vision is “to provide the services and supports that improve the quality of life for seniors and people with disabilities, so they can live independent, meaningful, and dignified lives within the community of their choice.”
Those services include:
-- Caregiver Services: Training caregivers and respite programs to give them a temporary break from their difficult jobs.
-- Case Management: Assessing the needs of seniors so they and they families can coordinate their care.
-- Elder Abuse Prevention: A system to report and investigate allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation of seniors.
-- Emergency Preparedness: Making sure seniors are prepared in the event of natural or manmade emergencies.
-- Energy Assistance: Helping low-income seniors pay expensive heating bills in the winter.
-- Homemaker Program: Helping seniors remain in their own homes by providing such services as housekeeping, meal planning and preparation, personal errands and bill paying.
-- Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program: Looking out for seniors who live in long-term care facilities.
-- Meal Assistance: Meals delivered directly to the home or in a group setting at a senior or community center.
-- Senior Community Employment Service Program: Training and helping low-income seniors get work.
-- Transportation: Providing transportation to and from medical appointments, adult day care, senior centers or shopping outings.
It is recommended that all seniors in Idaho think about getting a medical alert system. Most seniors value their independence above all else and consider moving to a nursing home or an assisted living facility as a last resort. Well, having a medical alert system can keep you in your home for as long as possible. It provides the monitoring you just cannot get if you live alone and do not have an alert system.
Medical alert companies operate in all 50 states, including Idaho. At first glance they seem to all offer the same services, but there are differences. To compare more than a dozen top companies, go to this link.
Idaho has a unique program to help people deal with chronic diseases. The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program is a workshop-based program that meets for two and a half hours, once a week for six weeks. People with such diseases as hypertension, arthritis, heart disease, lung disease or diabetes learn how to manage their illnesses.
The overall goal is to give seniors the self-confidence to assume a major role in maintaining their health and managing their chronic diseases. They learn such things as relaxation techniques, using medication properly and exercise to keep themselves healthy.
The ICOA coordinates with six Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) to get its programs and services directly to seniors.