UI Program Aims to Help Senior Citizens Stay in their Homes Safely

by Brian Wilson
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A University of Iowa pilot program launched in 2019 to help older Iowans continue living independently in their homes is seeing wide success and will soon be available statewide. Brian Kaskie, a U-I professor of health policy, says a senior citizen who is hospitalized for an illness or a medical procedure may wind up in a long-term care facility if their home isn’t fit for them to return, or if they’re having troubles.

The Iowa Return to Community initiative is expanding in the state, an effort to identify people who may be at-risk and help them to make their homes more comfortable and safe.

Working with the Iowa Department on Aging, those providers can offer a range of help to cover a senior’s needs, like hooking them up with the Meals on Wheels program, which can bring them hot, healthy meals several times a week.

It may be something like recommending a nearby program for exercise or yoga, or replacing a tub-style shower with a walk-in option. Kaskie says the Iowa Return to Community program is keeping participants happier, healthier, and in their homes longer, while saving the state money. Iowa has the country’s highest percentage of residents above age 80, and studies find by 2030, for the first time in state history, Iowans over age 65 will outnumber those under the age of 18.

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