By Rebecca Metcalf
Valley Area Agency on Aging (VAAA) provides answers, action and advocacy on care for the elderly and disabled adults of Genesee, Lapeer and Shiawasee counties. In order to provide answers, there is Medicaid and Medicare assistance, as well as housing information. Providing action for the care of the elderly becomes tangible with home-delivered meals and personal care (bathing, washing hair, brushing teeth, etc.). An example of advocacy on care for the elderly is helping with nursing facility transitions and senior volunteer programs.
Unlike a senior center, which is a place for socialization, activities and some resource information, VAAA is an Area Agency on Aging (AAA). President and CEO Yaushica Aubert explain, “AAAs in Michigan are federally-mandated organizations under the Older Americans Act. Federal and state entities designate dollars specifically to AAAs throughout Michigan to provide services to seniors to assist them in staying in their home, and remain independent as long as possible. AAAs also provide funding to other organizations in the community for programs that serve seniors, such as home-delivered meals, legal services, Wellness Programs, and many more.”
Other examples of services provided to seniors are caregiver relief or respite, personal emergency response units (necklace or bracelet with a button one can push in case of a fall or other dangerous situation), referrals for prescription assistance, adult daycare, case management, telephonic wellness checks, and independent seniors and transportation resources.
“VAAA has staff whose role is to speak to participants or caregivers and inform them of the many services and program options in the community, all of which have their own set of requirements that must be met in order for someone to participate in the program. Based on the intake assessments, VAAA staff informs them of the long-term care programs, or options, to which they appear eligible and links the participant to those programs or services,” explained Aubert.
If you are interested in learning more about the VAAA, visit their website. There is information on employment. There are a variety of resources online. These include frequently asked questions, such as “Where can I find help with home repairs?” There are also a variety of links such as Social Security and the Veterans Benefits Administration, caregiver resources, and a list of senior centers in the area.
A notable program VAAA sponsors is the MI Choice Waiver Program. This is an in-home service, not a nursing home. However, the MI Choice Waiver program and nursing homes have the same amount of care or service to be eligible for both programs. For this program, the VAAA receives funding from the Michigan Department of Community Health. Its goal is to allow those eligible to live at home versus at a nursing home. Qualification is done by a nurse or social worker. Many factors are assessed including health and family support.
VAAA was recognized in 2019 by Tivity Health for contributions to reduce social isolation and improve the health of older adults. However, the agency also does some recognizing of its own. Every year at its annual meeting, they honor senior citizen volunteers and centenarians (people who have lived 100 or more years) from Genesee, Lapeer and Shiawassee counties. The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) is composed of seniors who serve the elderly or disabled.
Aubert wants readers to know that if someone is ill and needs assistance staying in their home, or if someone is caring for a loved one and wants to keep them in their home, please contact the VAAA.
“Our team can connect you to the programs best suited for your individual needs and assist with getting services and programs implemented,” she said.
VAAA assists in transitioning people from the nursing home back into their own homes, as well as from the hospital to their home. The services help people heal better and reduce their chances of getting re-hospitalized. You may call VAAA for all things senior.