Connecting with Resources

State agency releases ‘A Guide to Services for Older Adults’

Richard Kline

MARQUETTE — A new resource is available for those who are looking to learn more about programs available for older adults in Michigan, as “A Guide to Services for Older Adults” was released earlier this month by the Aging & Adult Services Agency under the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The agency designed the guide to be an overview of local, state and federal resources available to older adults in Michigan, seeking to promote greater awareness and accessibility to the services. Because there are 16 area agencies on aging in Michigan with around 1,000 service providers, it’s important to have these resources compiled in one place with phone numbers and brief descriptions of the services offered by various agencies, officials said.

“It’s a 1,000-foot view of services in the state and can help people get really where they need to go as quickly as possible, as oftentimes there is a situation that is urgent and people need immediate help,” said AASA Public Affairs Specialist Phil Lewis.

The guide aims to improve older adults’ access to local services that allow them to remain living at home safely and independently, officials said.

“Most people want to remain at home and in their community as they age,” said AASA Senior Deputy Director Richard Kline. “This resource guide was designed to help people do just that by quickly connecting them to services like Meals on Wheels, caregiver support and in-home care that can help them continue to live at home independently.”

The cover for A Guide to Services for Older Adults, released by the Aging & Adult Services Agency under the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services earlier this month, is pictured. The guide aims to provide a broad overview of the resources and programming available for older adults throughout Michigan to increase accessibility and awareness of the services. (Courtesy of Michigan’s Aging & Adult Services Agency)

This is important, he said, as many people may begin to encounter challenges with tasks of daily living, such as cooking, cleaning, shopping and transportation as they age.

“We’re focused on seniors and giving them the supports they need to live in their homes,” Kline said.

While friends and family members can often step up to offer informal support, it’s important to know what resources are available if additional support may be needed, he said.

“The way the guide helps is that people don’t always know who they should call in their regional area. The area agencies on aging — we call those AAAs — those are the organizations designated by law to help the public learn about the options where they live,” Kline said. “These can be both public and private options. They’re the experts in their region when it comes to aging, aging issues, aging resources.”

Resources such as homemaking services, care management, transportation services, educational programming, respite care and meal services can help people stay in their homes longer and remain more independent, even in the absence of an informal caregiver, he said.

A Meals on Wheels recipient of a Thanksgiving dinner smiles as her meal is delivered. The recently-released "A Guide to Services for Older Adults" aims to make it easier for people to connect with programs such as Meals on Wheels, respite care, transportation services, homemaking services and other resources that can help a person live safely and independently in their home for longer. (U.S. Air Force photo)

“We come in and supplement that support and care and give them additional resources right in their home,” Kline said. “It may not prevent an institutional placement in assisted living or a nursing home, but it can push it off or even prevent it completely.”

Because of this, the resource guide can be a valuable tool for many people, officials said.

“Anybody that has questions or concerns about an older adult — it could be the older adult themselves, could be an adult child, could be a neighbor — it really is a good resource for all of those folks who want to make a call and get more information,” Kline said.

The guide, which aims to complement and support local marketing and outreach efforts about these services, was developed in partnership with many area agencies on aging, such as Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress, or UPCAP, which serves the entire Upper Peninsula, Lewis and Kline said.

“We wanted to do our part and really figure out a way if we could do something to provide greater awareness and help people understand their options,” Lewis said.

The team is excited for the release of the first edition of the guidebook and look forward to it being updated annually, Lewis said.

“We’re always taking constructive feedback, it’s the first edition so it will be updated annually and we hope that it gets better every year,” he said.

For more information on the AASA or to download the guidebook, visit www.michigan.gov/osa/.

Hard copies of the guidebook may be available at local agencies or can be mailed to an individual if they contact the AASA via email at OSAInfo@michigan.gov, call the office at 517-373-8230 or send a message to the AASA’s Facebook page.

To learn more about UPCAP’s services as the U.P.’s AAA, call 211 or visit upcap.org.