by Joe Seidenberg
In our last newsletter, we highlighted Red Feather’s recent efforts to help elders live their remaining years in their own homes. The project is enabled thanks to a strong partnership we have with Dr Lisa Jane Hardy and her department at Northern Arizona Univertisty, the Center for American Indian Resilience. We are working together with the Hopi Office of Aging and Adult Services, Village Elder Programs, and interested community members to deliver a pilot of the program across Hopi. Funding was provided through a grant we won from Kendal Charitable Foundation. We are very honored and grateful to have been selected out of nearly 100 applicants for this grant.
Our objectives for this pilot are to develop a training that teaches those taking care of elders how to assess homes for aging in place needs and instruct occupants on how to remedy basic problems. After the training, 24 households will receive comprehensive assessments along with $250 to spend on do-it-yourself home interventions, such as mobility and bathroom accessibility enhancements, or measures to improve indoor air quality. Families will also be provided with a series of educational resources that empower them to create healthier living environments. Red Feather plans to leverage our Native Home Resource Network for households that have repairs that go beyond DIY interventions and/or lack the resources to manage their own home repairs.
Red Feather believes that community engagement is critical to developing effective programs. In a recent listening session with over 70 Hopi elders we asked about the most pressing housing needs they have that inhibit their ability to age in place. We also asked them to list things that help them to be happy and well in their homes. A few of the highlights from this discussion included:
· When elders think about the challenges they face they consider structural needs like accessible bathing and mobility ramps in addition to major repair needs like leaking roofs, mold remediation or stove replacement.
· Bathing can be difficult for all elders, but even more so for those living without running water or electricity in their homes. Walk-in showers, tall toilets, plumbing, grab bars, etc. are needed at public bathing facilities to provide increased independence and safety.
· Many elders talked about the social aspects of their lives, like having friends and family come to visit, being even more important to aging in place than improvements to the home environment.