Pennsylvania doctor, lawmaker explain why aging in place ‘makes sense’

A physician and a lawmaker, both based in the state of Pennsylvania, have come together to explain to area seniors why aging in place “makes sense,” explaining potential benefits from a regional healthcare system’s senior wellness program and the ability to remain in their own homes as they get older.

Kenneth Tomczyk, a physician who works with the Geisinger health system’s “65 Forward” program and state Rep. Bridget Kosierowski (D) who works in the Pennsylvania General Assembly spoke with the Times-Tribune based in Scranton, Pa. about the benefits of both the senior wellness program and aging in place generally.

One key aging in place benefit, Tomczyk explained, is maintaining a higher level of independence and autonomy due to high levels of familiarity with a senior’s own home and neighborhood. Compared to a traditional senior living environment, a lack of familiarity and direct interaction with friends and loved ones could affect stress levels and cognition.

Aging in place can reduce stress, he told the outlet, but seniors also need to ensure their needs are being met more proactively than they would need to be concerned about in a congregate care setting like a nursing home.

Kosierowski, who worked as a nurse before entering politics, describes a strong belief in the benefits of aging in place and sees certain state programs as tools to help facilitate that goal. People who age at home, she explained, can often exhibit better outcomes due to having family nearby to offer support, she said.

“Not that other caregiving situations aren’t effective,” she told the Times-Tribune. “But, it often makes sense to age at home, in a familiar setting and surrounded by those you know.”

But caregivers often need attention themselves to safeguard their own wellbeing, which is why the state has a caregiver support program that can offer resources and assistance to caregivers. These can include “respite care and financial reimbursement for services and supplies,” according to the Times-Tribune.

Recent data from Redfin has illustrated the continuing desire for seniors to age in place in their own homes, with 78% of adults aged 60 and older in a recent survey expressing a desire to stay in their current home as they age.

Officials with both the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have also spoken about the increasing desires for older Americans to remain in their homes.

“Older Americans should be able to live independently and age with dignity,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in an announcement of his department’s recent policy update to the Older Americans Act. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to expanding access to health care, nutrition services, caregiving, and opportunities to age in place for all older Americans.

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