Topics on Aging

By Juan Gallo

What does it mean to “Age My Way?”

May 9, 2022

Age My Way

As we discussed last week, Heart2Heart is celebrating Older Americans Month. The theme for this year’s observation is “Age My Way.” This gives us an opportunity to explore the many different ways that older adults can continue to be active and involved in their community.

These days, aging adults are planning to stay in their homes and live independently for as long as possible. One of our main goals at Heart2Heart is to support seniors in their decisions, whatever they are, for as long as it is safe to do so.

I recently visited a woman who is in her mid-80s and whose mind is starting to deteriorate. But her body is completely healthy.

She is very guarded about having to live somewhere else outside of her own home – a home that she had invested into and worked hard to earn.

How do we help our family members and dear friends achieve their goals if their independence jeopardizes their safety?

Think about it: if we buy a house in our 40s with a 30-year mortgage, we’re going to be paying that house into our 70s.

That means, by the time an adult is done paying off their house, they may start hearing from younger relatives, “Now you’ve got to leave. You can no longer stay in this house on your own.”

Most of us would respond: “No way. I’m going to stay. This is my house.”

How do we help our family members and dear friends achieve their goals if their independence jeopardizes their safety?

I’m going to say responsibly: there are ways and there are programs (that are growing and still new) that can assist people, at any level of income and with any disability, to stay in their own home.

One specific program that comes to mind is one that is near and dear to my heart. It carries many names but traditionally is called self-directed services. I directed the program for the states of Florida and North Carolina for many years when I worked for a major self-directed care company, GT Independence.

Self-directed services allow a person who is aging to become their own employer of record. This allows them to choose to hire and fire their caregivers, without having to depend on the Medicare or Medicaid agency that would otherwise be assigned to them. They also can schedule the staff at times that work best.

To learn more about self direction and how it works, visit appliedselfdirection.com. If you live in Florida, visit GTIndependence.com.

We’ll talk more about senior independence next week. If you’re interested in supporting independent seniors in the South Florida community, check out our Home-Based Community Visits program and become a volunteer!

Read more about:
Juan Gallo
Juan Gallo is the CEO of Heart2Heart Outreach, where he oversees the mobilization of volunteers to provide hope, share love and restore purpose to the lives of the aging population across South Florida.

He also serves as a local pastor and as an adjunct professor at Trinity International University, where he is teaching a course on diversity and aging. Juan has a master’s degree in counseling and psychology and is a licensed mental health counselor intern.

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