Our experiment two days ago in holding a TGB open forum or what might be called a reader-to-reader feedback day on a specific issue appears to be a rousing success. The question of the day, from SusanG, was
”...what senior services are offered by your town, do you use them, or are their other services you would like to see offered?”
Commenters did an excellent job of letting us know what does and doesn't work in their communities and what could be improved. Many of you named the town or area where you live and that was particularly interesting to me.
Today's post is a short summary of your responses.
A number of readers are pleased with their local transportation – in such places as Fresno, Sacramento, Seattle, Ann Arbor, Cape Cod. Those communities use a variety of solutions: free or reduced-fare public transportation; scheduled buses to senior centers or shopping; inexpensive taxis for medication transportation, etc.
Lack of transportation is a big issue for a larger group of readers in such places as Yonkers, a Texas town, western Michigan, Montreal as it is in almost all rural and suburban areas in the U.S. and, I'm guessing, Canada too.
One person suggested the new, app-controlled taxi-like services Uber and Lyft.
They are mostly available only in large cities and they are controversial, so much so that Germany has banned them and some cities in the U.S. are looking into serious issues of insurance, liability, etc. that are required for licensed taxis but not these new services.
Just yesterday, a German judge lifted the ban but appeals are going forward. You can read more here and with that in mind, of course it's up to you to decide to use the services or not.
A few of readers reported mostly good elder services in their areas: Yonkers, Spain, Canada (transportation in Montreal notwithstanding) and an area of suburban New Jersey where SusanG, who submitted the question, lives.
As has been revealed in many surveys and studies of elder needs and desires for community services, more opportunities for social engagements are high on every old person's list.
Jean wrote poignantly of a common dilemma many of us share as friends die or move away:
”I don't have family near-by and no close friends. (I didn't get out much when I was a full-time caregiver to my husband for 12 years and a part-time caregiver to my dad in the 5 years before that.)
“Since my husband died 2 1/2 years ago I've been working my tail off trying to be active in various groups to help build friendships but but so far I have many friendly acquaintances but no close friend to exchange favors with.”
That's a big one for many of us old folks.
As several readers mentioned, almost as important as personal relationships is the small stuff – that can easily build up into big stuff. Suz put it this way:
”I would appreciate someone to clean and put away the outdoor furniture next week; someone to come by once or twice a year to explain the new (and old!) tech information for computer and cell phones.
“Someone who could assist going through boxes of memorable or useless items that now number in the dozens; help with eliminating unwanted clothing and household items & then donating them to my favorite homeless shelter.
“And I'd love for someone who could put together a list of all the small, pesky things (like screen repairs, paint touch-ups, ceramic gluing, etc.) and have it all done.”
These regularly needed and one-time household chores are precisely the kind of things that Villages volunteers can do so well. Jean left a note asking for links about how Villages work and how to start one.
Instead of many links, I'll give you one that that has an excellent library information from which you can pick and choose as is useful to you.
It is the website of Villages NW, my local Villages “hub” working hard to help build the (so far) eight Villages being developed in the Portland, Oregon area. Use the dropdown menus under the headers, Learn About Villages and Resource Library, where there are dozens of informative papers.
EXPLOITING THE ELDER MARKET
Cathy Johnson of Rockford, Illinois, left a comment about her visit to “Senior Expo” where, she says, only about 10 percent of the exhibitors had information of real value to elders:
”The majority were selling insurance, high-priced in-home care, bathtubs for those who cannot use a standard one, food supplements (the only vendor of these that I spoke to could not tell me the contents, only that it 'helped him avoid a recommended knee replacement a couple of years ago')...”
Yeah, right. You can read Cathy's entire comment here.
FUTURE TGB FORUMS AND YOU
So Tuesday's forum experiment confirmed some beliefs I have on elder needs and supplied a lot of new information, as I hope it did for you. As usual, all the comments were thoughtful, informative and useful.
This idea came from SusanG and just when I needed it, too. For a variety of reasons over the next several weeks I will not have as much time as usual to give to this blog.
The best reason is that Peter Tibbles, the “musicologist” who writes the Sunday Elder Music column on this blog and Norma, the assistant musicologist, arrive next week from Melbourne for a good, long visit I've been eagerly awaiting.
If Tuesday is any indication, the TGB Forum is a great way to reduce my time obligation and still keep the blog fresh every day. Here's how you can help:
In the comments today, leave your suggestions for future TGB Forum topics. It might be best to state them in the form of a question but that's not a requirement and don't let it confine you. They can be serious, informational or just fun/funny. As always at TGB, they must relate in some manner to aging.
You will be credited if I use your suggestion so if you have a personal blog, be sure to include the URL in the comment form so I have the link.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: A Long Lost (with good reason) Lone Ranger Show