Every day we all experience one universal truth, we are aging.

It affects us all uniquely, but it is something we all live with. There are so many services, programs, regulations and technical terms out there it is sometimes difficult to articulate what it is a person needs as they age.

Often, they are looking for services to help them age in place — which very simply put, means for a person to live and grow older safely and comfortably in their home and community with support. Programs designed for this purpose are the foundation of a significant portion of the work done by the Area Agency Aging through its partners.

NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania holds the unique role of leading the community’s efforts to help our friends and family members age in place through simple or major home modifications as well as supportive navigation programs. Coordinators, staff and volunteers from the organization work hand in hand with AAA staff to help find solutions and resources.

Homeowners interested in aging in place should consider taking steps to prepare for life changes, but most often the team at NeighborWorks jumps into helping a person in the middle of a change. Ramps, bathroom modifications and other major projects are reviewed with certified contractors and occupational therapists to ensure the projects are designed for an individual’s unique needs. Contractors and other skilled professionals are vetted by the agency to ensure not only there is quality workmanship, but also fair pricing. NeighborWorks will also help qualifying individuals access some or all of the funding they need for a project.

NeighborWorks offers Home Matters Safety Kits to help prevent falls, to help lower energy costs and other safety measures to improve your home environment to better meet your needs. The University of Scranton’s Occupational Therapy Department plays a key role in this and the other programs offered at the agency.

If you aren’t interested in home modifications, maybe you are interested in the Friendly Visitor Program. A volunteer navigator from NeighborWorks can help you stay connected through home visits, calls and social connections. They can also help you navigate to services you might not be aware of like the Elder Law Clinic, financial coaching, tax deferment programs or recreational health and wellness opportunities. All of these programs and many more are provided primarily through lottery funding your Area Agency on Aging receives. Thanks to the Ignation Volunteer Corp, we have trained volunteers to provide individuals with connectivity.

Jesse Ergott, president and CEO of NeighborWorks, reached out in partnership to me about four years ago to start programming for expansive and innovative aging in place services in our community. He quickly identified Mary Endrusick as the team leader producing 163 unique individuals served, 91 critical home modifications completed, 205 unique volunteer connections and 93 individuals successfully navigated to appropriate services.

On July 21, a new education series was launched by NeighborWorks focusing on isolation, financial guidance and safety tips all centered around Aging in Place. Please join us and check it out. For more information or to register please contact Mary Endrusick at mendrusick@nwnepa.org

Jason Kavulich is the director of Lackawanna County’s Area Agency on Aging. For more information on services available call 570-963-6740.

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