Darien Senior Center

We met with Nancy Zengo, head of the Darien Senior Center, last month. Nancy said that her seniors are a lively bunch who want exercise classes and to have fun. They do art and join in lots of activities. She agrees that they mostly want to stay in their homes, but expense and frustrations with maintenance cause many to move. She cited the same thing as the NY Times article. People need help changing difficult lightbulbs or changing screens and storm windows. But few ask for help.

Also, Darien is an expensive place to live. Property taxes and costs of health care are the top expenses, and although seniors could take advantage of reverse mortgages to free up their cash flow, they tend not to do it.
Herein lies our problem. How can we get people to do what they need to do to stay put and age with grace?
Here's a link to the Darien Senior Center Web site:

Aging In Place with Grace

Lots of people are telling us about the NY Times article about Aging in Place. Some of the ideas in it are ones we've already had -- helping people change light bulbs, for instance. Helping people with the simple stuff seems to be the best and most practical thing we can do. Come fall, we'll launch an initiative to get people to sign up to help seniors with simple tasks like that. The challenge is, getting the seniors to ask for help. Ideas?

I'm asking for help, now. I'm finding a lot of links I'd like to link to, but I don't know how to set up the links or the Atom or RSS feeds. Can anyone help me?


Aging at Home in CT section of NY Times

Today's Connecticut Section of The New York Times has an article on aging at home. "When it Feels Right at Home" focuses on the desire to stay at home as a growing trend and the challenges surrounding that desire. Read the article. Post comments. If you don't get the Times, here is a link to the article online.

You may have to register to read it.

If you have a library card, your public library may have free NY Times (including archives) online. The Darien Library has that service for card holders. Simply login and look for databases and webs. Find the NY Times and Wall Street Journal archives and look for any article you want.

aging in place - resources for planning

As part of our exploration into how to help people in our community age at home, we've reached out to community organizations to learn what's available. We had a wonderful session with
Kiki Karpen, who is Executive Director of Darien United Way (now Community Fund of Darien). She told us about the incredible array of services available from the nonprofit and for-profit arenas.

Probably the most important thing we learned about was Infoline -- 211. Anyone can dial 211 for information about all the services in our community. If you need help, this is the number to call. It's free, confidential and available 24/7. Trained professionals will help you. Learn more at:

Kiki just sent us information about a professional organization that helps with caring of the elderly, The Caregiver Resource Center. Visit their Web site:
http://www.caregiverresourcecenter.com/index.htm. This is a for-profit company, and we do not endorse it in any way, nor do we know anything about its quality of service. This is purely information we're passing on.

More to come. Please post comments. Please stay tuned.

Aging in Place -- Research

As we continue to research the resources available to help people age at home, we've discovered the following:

Choices for Independence White Paper
On a new act for helping seniors with independent living. Update on Aging Americans Act. Lots of fed. Funds available.

White paper on community support for aging in place, including grants, foundations, faith-based organizations and initiatives and resources:

It's always amazing to me to discover how much information exisits on any one topic, once I start to look for it. Obviously, there are many ways to help people stay in their homes as they age. The big question is how to harness all the information and energy. What model do we follow?

Once again, we're just volunteers pursuing an idea. This is not an official church mission. At least, not yet.

Aging In Place - Aging at Home - SW Connecticut

Our group has discovered that there is an amazing array of services available which help people remain in their homes as they age. One of the big problems is helping people find that info. Older folks tend not to use the Internet. And their adult children may not think of looking for such information until it's too late. Or they may just assume that moving out is the only solution.

My first foray onto the Web to find out about support for aging at home turned up the following for Connecticut and Southwestern Connecticut, which is where our church is located:

Area Agency on Aging – umbrella

Southwestern area agency on aging

Administration on Aging (fed gov.)

Please post any information you have or challenges you're facing with this topic.

Going Further - aging at home

We've pretty much decided that we must take Aging with Grace one step at a time. Trying to emulate the Beacon Hill Village model (mentioned in the last post) would be overwhelming at this time. So we're starting out by looking at what our church, other churches (& synagogues and mosques) in our community, governments and nonprofits offer to help people age in place; i.e., stay in their homes.

We're doing a survey -- via phone, in-person and web-based to see what exists and where the gaps are. I'll post our discoveries. Stay tuned.

We're also collecting ideas. So post your suggestions.

Just Beginning

A group at The First Congregational Church of Darien has started a committee to see how we can help people in our church and our community age in place, or as I like to say, age with grace. Studies show that 80% of people do not want to leave their homes as they grow older. They don't want to abandon familiar surroundings and friends that they love in order to move to assisted living or other retirement or institutional settings.

How can the faith community help people who want to stay at home longer? How much should we help? A group in Boston, Beacon Hill Village, is a nonprofit that is dedicated to helping people stay at home as they age. They offer a full range of services (http://www.beaconhillvillage.org/). You can read more about them on the AARP Web site at: http://www.aarp.org/bulletin/longterm/declaration_of_independents_build.html

As our group explores how to help people best, we'll post our progress here.

Post your ideas or comments. We'd love your input.