Pat, a social worker, spent 20 years of her life helping others get ahead. Her hard work and heart gave countless people in her Toledo, Ohio, community the chance to live a better life. That support came full circle last year when Pat suffered a major stroke and her life was put on pause.
Unable to drive or hold a job due to her poor health, Pat turned to Ottawa County Transitional Housing, a service she often recommended to others for assistance with rent, transportation and other needs. Before she knew it, the people Pat had devoted her life to were helping her rebuild her own.
“People I had helped came and wanted to help me,” said Pat, who was taught how to file for Section 8 housing. “Why? Because of what goes on in this community. The combination of United Way and Ottawa County Transitional Housing is huge. It’s amazing.”
United Way of Greater Toledo provides funding for Ottawa County Transitional Housing through their partnership with the Sutton Center Community Outreach Program, which helps people establish a supportive lifestyle and become financially stable. Pat is just one of 15,690 people in the region who have overcome barriers to living a healthy and active life thanks to United Way.
Across the nation, United Way is providing older adults with the support they need. In Virginia, United Way of Greater Williamsburg and The ARC of Greater Williamsburg serve adults with intellectual and development disabilities through services that support health, wellness and life-skills trainings. In Texas, United Way of Tarrant County and the Area Agency on Aging of Tarrant County came together to offer caregiver workshops, benefits counseling and nutritional programs. And United Way of Greater Houston creates an annual directory to connect older adults with support systems.
Now more than ever, elder care is integral to sustained community health. In the next decade, people over the age of 60 will make up almost 25 percent of the world’s population—outnumbering children. In the United States alone, the number of seniors will double. United Way is fighting to change the odds so people like Pat can continue to live vibrant lives, while maintaining their health, financial security and independence. A big part of this effort centers on the caregivers who support older adults.
To generate awareness about the needs of the elderly and their caregivers, United Way Worldwide and AARP teamed up to build Do You Care Challenge, a simulator that lets users walk in the shoes of four different caregivers, and see some of their daily challenges and joys. According to AARP, there are nearly 40 million family caregivers in the United States; they have busy lives and evolving demands, with no simple solutions. Increasing awareness can help, though. The Do You Care Challenge, which launched last week, is designed to start a dialogue about caregiving in communities. It’s just one more way United Way is working to give people of all ages the quality care they deserve.
Want to help the elderly in your community? Learn how you can join the fight by visiting your local United Way and asking about their health programs.