Meet the Green, Jimenez, and Abbott Families

Mrs. Green is an 87 year-old widow who lives alone.  Despite chronic conditions and three falls, she led an active life until she lost her vision last year. She needs help with many daily living activities such as shopping, cleaning, and transportation. Her daughter lives out of town, works full-time, and has a young child.  Mrs. Green is slowly regaining some sight, and is determined to remain in her home.  Medicare does not pay for personal care services and caregiver costs are depleting her small savings. Isolation and vision loss are depressing.

Mr. Jimenez, an 80 year-old immigrant, is recovering from a broken hip and lives with his 78 year-old wife in a two-story house. Their daughter lives close by, works full-time, and has three small children.  Mr. and Mrs. Jimenez have very limited finances and receive minimal Social Security benefits. English is not their first language. They want to stay in their home.

Mrs. Abbott is 75 years old, has an early stage of dementia, and lives with her daughter, son-in-law, and two teenage grandchildren.  Her daughter works full-time, and worries about her mother being home alone. She worries about the future as her mother’s dementia progresses, Mrs. Abbott’s son lives across town, has young children, and visits weekly.  Both children want their mother to remain at home.    

“Communities for a Lifetime” have the potential to address specific needs for the Green, Jimenez, and Abbott families.  Incorporating a continuum of multi-disciplinary approaches spanning simple technology; complex, computer-based assistive devices; and everything in between; the following ideas can address the many challenges that these families face.  Aging and urban planning experts can develop communities that offer LTSS for these families, including age-friendly housing and services to help elders with disabilities maintain active lives.  These services may include transportation, social activities, health care, and help with daily living activities (e.g. bathing, using the toilet, dressing, cooking, eating, shopping, cleaning, home maintenance, bill paying, etc.). “Smart home” technology may help Mrs. Green’s low vision and monitor Mrs. Abbott as her dementia progresses.  Innovations involving architecture and engineering could help Mr. Jimenez manage the stairs in his two-story home.  Experts in fall prevention can help Mrs. Green avoid future falls.  A multi-disciplinary community approach could develop innovative solutions to address each family’s unique needs – a far cry from the all-too-common assumption that an older person with limitations needs to live in an institutional setting.   

View the PowerPoint “Maryland Communities for a Lifetime” for in-depth analysis of who can benefit from Communities for a Lifetime.