May is Older Americans Month so The Senior Source is shining a light on the needs of Older Adults and how anyone (yes, anyone!) can help. Whether you share the information and resources below with loved ones, offer direct time and energy, or volunteer/donate to nonprofit agencies like The Senior Source, everyone can help seniors live more comfortable and fulfilling lives. We have identified the top five needs of older adults now and how we can help.
1. Understanding Technology
A recent Pew study found that 27 percent of seniors age 65+ still do not use the internet. This fact alone leaves this group particularly vulnerable to the impacts of life without connectivity, but these effects are further compounded for seniors who are marginalized in other ways. For the other 73 percent of older adults that do use the internet, many face challenges when getting their new devices up and running, with three-quarters of those older than 65 saying they need assistance in setting up their electronic devices. After a concerted effort during the pandemic to grant seniors access to basic equipment, it is now the lack of skills and quality of hardware and software that leads to a continuing digital divide.
Fortunately, there are several ways seniors can learn how to use technology that is often available to them free of charge. They can learn from family members or attend classes at senior centers, community groups, and nonprofit organizations like The Senior Source. The Senior Source partners with AARP’s Senior Planet to deliver high-quality, intimate in-person weekly technology training with topics ranging from iPad essentials, how to stream movies on TV, smartphone beginner classes, and more. View a list of this month’s classes and training schedule available for free.
2. Living on a Fixed Income and Cost of Utilities
Poverty has increased from 8.9 percent to 10.3 percent among older adults from 2019 to 2021. Those who fall below the poverty line often experience an accompanying increase in food and housing insecurity, sometimes going without medicine or food to pay other basic expenses such as an energy bill.
If you or a senior in your life need help paying your utility bills, come to The Senior Source office the second Wednesday of every month from 9 a.m.– 1 p.m. or click here to receive assistance online. To qualify, Seniors 60+ in Dallas and Collin Counties should plan to bring their Driver’s License or other picture ID, Proof of Income and Utility Bill. There are also resource lists for subsidized housing available.
For seniors in Dallas, not having access to cool air conditioning can be life-threatening. Plus, old inefficient AC units can cost more to operate. The Senior Source’s Beat the Heat campaign, in partnership with TXU Energy, makes it possible for older adults to receive free energy-efficient window air conditioner units each summer. The next giveaway is scheduled for July 15.
If you are in a position to help seniors stay cool this summer click here to donate to give seniors a free air conditioner or if you need assistance register here.
3. Finding Purpose and Social Interaction
One–fourth of adults age 65+ are considered socially isolated, according to a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). Not only do social isolation and loneliness affect mental health, but they also affect physical health. It is associated with a 50 percent increased risk of dementia and a 29 percent increased risk of heart disease, according to the CDC. Many experts believe that volunteering and regular interaction with others can significantly reduce these risks and improve mental health.
The Senior Source encourages older adults to volunteer to create a sense of purpose and find meaningful interactions. Two of the AmeriCorps Seniors Volunteer programs – Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions – not only help clients they are matched with, but they help the volunteers find meaningful relationships, have a sense of purpose and fulfillment and, when qualified, receive a monthly stipend for their service.
There are also RSVP and Friendly Visitor volunteer opportunities which connect individuals and groups to local partner agencies to serve causes they care about. Believe it or not, that’s not all! View a wide variety of individual and group volunteer opportunities to serve seniors. Share with your loved ones to inspire them to get involved.
4. “Un-retiring” to Ensure Financial Security
A survey by CNBC showed that 68 percent of people who retired during the pandemic are now considering returning to work – citing the rising cost of living being one of the main factors. The problem, however, is that skilled seniors are struggling to get hired due to ageism. While it’s likely not the first time you’ve heard this in the news, Paychex did a survey that found that 62% of hiring managers are skeptical about hiring retirees.
But seniors come with a wealth of industry knowledge and experience and, given the right opportunity, can add a lot of value to newer professional teams. So, next time you are in a position to hire – consider an older adult for the role!
There’s also a myth that older adults are not able to be trained on technology. Studies have shown 85% of older adults are able to learn new technology when given the opportunity. The Senior Source recognizes the value that older adult job seekers bring to the workforce. We seek to partner with employers who also recognize that older adults bring dependability, loyalty, and experience.
We also know that inflation has negatively affected seniors and the possibility of an economic downturn is scary. That is why seniors can turn to a valuable, free resource like The Elder Financial Safety Center at The Senior Source. There are a wide variety of services available, free of charge to seniors 55+ including Career Services, Financial Coaching, Benefits Assistance, Money Management, Budgeting, Insurance Counseling, Filing a Fraud Complaint, and Debt Management. Trying to make your money last as long as possible is not static, it’s a fluid situation with many twists and turns. We provide seniors with strategies that will keep money safe and sound.
You can help by volunteering to be a trained Money Management coach and/or refer loved ones to these services. Learn more by contacting EFSC@TheSeniorSource.org.
5. Aging in their own home
Research has shown that 70 percent of those who reach age 65 will need long-term care in their later years but nearly 90 percent of seniors want to stay in their home.
Agencies like The Senior Source can help seniors stay in their homes for as long as it is safe to do so by providing valuable resources and care consultations from our professional team. Review the in-home safety checklist and more from our Resource Center.
If you know someone who may need some additional support as they keep their loved one at home, click here to review a list of available support groups, workshops, and information to share.
About The Senior Source
Since 1961, The Senior Source’s mission has been to enhance the quality of life for older adults in greater Dallas. This nonprofit agency serves as the go-to resource for everything older adults may need including financial guidance, advice on long-term care facilities, or ways to connect with others through volunteerism. The agency assists 24,000 seniors and their families with the services, programs, and resources they need to be happy and secure in their later years. Learn more at theseniorsource.org.