By the year 2019, one out of three people in the six-county region of Delta, Montrose, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Ouray, and San Miguel Counties will be 75 years or older. In an effort to better serve our rapidly-aging communities, Region 10’s Area Agency on Aging recently released its four-year action plan to improve the quality of life for older adults.

Several months ago, AAA conducted a series of community conversations throughout the six counties. The main premise of these conversations was to identify the needs of our aging population and identify gaps in supportive services.

Informed by significant public input, the four-year plan identifies several areas of concern: availability of affordable housing, access to dependable transportation, assistance with daily activities, ability to maintain independence at home, access to information about long-term services, nutrition programs, and financial assistance.

The plan lays out the details of an expanded voucher program. The goal is to create a consumer service model that provides financial support to local agencies and organizations that are providing services to older adults. The financial investment will be based on metrics that measure the number of older adults being served by these organizations.

Another key element of the plan is enhancing the ability of older adults to stay in their own homes, courtesy of funding provided by the Older Americans Act. These services not only improve seniors’ ability to self-sustain, but it also is more cost effective for communities. “These programs strive to provide the right amount of service in the home at the right time at a reasonable cost,” states Eva Veitch, Community Living Services Director at Region 10. The average annual cost of assisted living is over $24,000 and about $60,000 for a skilled nursing facility. The average annual cost of Older American Act funded programs is about $4,000 per year – a much better bargain for consumers and taxpayers.

Region 10’s AAA will continue to enhance its preexisting services and programs. Veitch continues, “We will continue to further develop strong community partnerships that streamline access to the care and support needed by our aging community members.” Primarily funded by the Older Americans Act, AAA provides additional services such as Medicare counseling, material aid for hearing, vision and dental needs, medical equipment, educational seminars addressing relevant topics, legal assistance, and the Long Term Care Ombudsmen advocacy program.

The specific details of the plan can be accessed on the Region 10 website: