On April 30th Fahe hosted a summit on Aging in Kingsport, Tennessee. The purpose of the summit was to get housing providers, policy makers, and service providers under one roof to discuss the growing needs of the elderly population in Appalachia.
Appalachia, as a region, has the highest proportion of people over the age of 65 in the nation at approximately 960,000 people. By 2025 it is projected that there will be 5.1 million persons age 65 or above in the Appalachian region. Appalachia constantly falls behind in terms of economic development and well-being and this means our seniors will not be receiving the care and services they need to remain safe, healthy, and empowered.
The Aging Summit proved to be a great success. The summit was well attended and the participation from so many groups interested in finding solutions for the problems facing seniors in our region was exceptional.
One of the main overarching themes was the benefit of helping people age in place. If done correctly, elderly citizens can stay in their own homes safely while maintaining a normal functioning routine and avoid high costs of nursing care facilities and hospital stays for the families and government agencies.
Rural Edge, a community development corporation from Vermont presented their method partnering of partnering health and long term care providers with nonprofit affordable housing providers to create optimal conditions for the elderly to stay at home safely as their functional needs change.
Other presenters included Jim King, President of Fahe and Marshall Crawford, Senior Director of the Southern Region, NeighborWorks America.
The summit also included sessions to allow members to discuss specific plans and ideas for seniors in their service areas with service providers and administrators from their individual states.
The Aging Summit was a successful start to what will prove to be a long-term campaign. Each group came away being able to identify other organizations that are needed in the discussion, potential sources of funding and investments, the need for story collection, and which tools will help them to raise awareness of the need both inside and outside of Appalachia.