Monday, January 23, 2017

Many of us hope to age in our own homes, but looking ahead, we wonder about everyday practicalities. What happens when we can no longer rake our leaves or change a light bulb in a hard-to-reach spot? The next Obermann Conversation features UI Aging Studies program director Mercedes Bern-Klug, communications consultant Susan Shullaw, and Tippie College of Business emeritus faculty member Nancy Hauserman discussing the value of mixed-demographic neighborhoods and how a new local nonprofit aims to help Johnson County seniors age safely and comfortably in their own homes. They will be in conversation on Wednesday, February 15, from 4:00 to 5:00 pm in meeting room “A” at the Iowa City Public Library.


Encouraging Active, Independent Living

The benefits of “aging in place” are numerous, explains Shullaw, who last year joined Hauserman and other local residents to found TRAIL of Johnson County, which aims to provide local seniors with “Tools and Resources for Active Independent Living.” These include trained volunteers who can assist with everything from daily check-ins and basic home repair to medical advocacy, and access to professional service providers screened by TRAIL for reliability, expertise, fair pricing, and overall customer satisfaction.

Having to sell a home and move into a senior living facility can be not only a financial burden but also hugely disruptive and stressful,” says Shullaw. “It’s an enormous adjustment to leave everything that’s familiar—the things that make you comfortable, the neighbors who make you feel at home, your established routines.”

Indeed, according to a recent report by the AARP Public Policy Institute, 90 percent of adults over 65 say they want to stay in their homes as they age, and those who do live independently are more likely to maintain their social relationships and enjoy better physical, emotional, and mental health. Their communities benefit, too, becoming safer, more pedestrian-friendly, and offering residents a greater sense of place.

Membership Begins in April

TRAIL will begin accepting members and recruiting volunteers in April. Over time, the group hopes to serve seniors throughout the county, and will offer a supported membership program for those with financial need. So far, says Shullaw, TRAIL has seen a tremendous amount of community support in the form of donations, pledges, and feedback. “It’s a huge vote of confidence in this concept,” she says, “and a demonstration of the need that people see in the community for these types of services.” TRAIL will complement and collaborate with other senior-centered organizations in the area, including Elder Services and the Iowa City-Johnson County Senior Center. Read more about TRAIL and the benefits of aging in place at