E­ach day more than 2,600 seniors depend on The Senior Alliance, Area Agency on Aging 1-C for their essential services to remain in their home. This can include everything from home delivered meals under the Meals on Wheels program, to receiving a friendly telephone call from a peer as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to combat social isolation. Established in 1980 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) to serve as the Area Agency on Aging for the 34 communities of Southern and Western Wayne County, the agency has continued to grow in sync with the region’s aging population. The Senior Alliance fights for the mental, physical and social health of the aging community.

People are infinitely grateful for the SHIP program. That level of counseling can reduce out of pocket costs. It really helps coordinate their care. We serve nearly 2,000 people during the open enrollment period in the fall into early winter
Tamera Kiger, the Senior Alliance Executive Director

As one of the region’s authorized agencies to facilitate the MI Choice Medicaid Waiver program, the agency currently is helping 621 participants in the this program. This home and community-based program for eligible adults that meet program criteria, allows them to receive services in a home or residential setting instead of being forced into an institution. Residential settings include an individual’s or family member’s home, unlicensed assisted living communities, licensed homes for the aged or licensed adult foster care homes.

According to Tamera Kiger, the agency’s Executive Director,” One program in particular that helps seniors is SHIP (Michigan’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program) funding.” According to the organization, 6,548 seniors were helped by trained SHIP counselors in 2017. “SHIP funding provides a much needed service for seniors. When it comes to navigating the complexities of healthcare, seniors can easily be confused and not fully understand their options under Medicare, particularly Part D.”

“So what these really well trained SHIP volunteers do is walk them one on one through that whole array of options. It helps them to understand what is the best insurance plan or policy for their particular situation.” Kiger added that seniors also benefit economically and mentally from this assistance.Another essential program The Senior Alliance specializes in is Friendly Reassurance. According to their website, the program “is designed to help homebound individuals age 60 and older remain independent in their own homes for as long as possible by providing reassuring telephone calls, social support, and safety checks. This program aims to reduce social isolation and help recipients feel safer and more connected to their community.”

“Social isolation is one of the biggest issues that many seniors are facing,” said Kiger. “It is a program that focuses on seniors that are shut in. They don’t have family or regular visitors. We utilize a team of seniors who are employed under the Senior Community Service Employment Program everyday to just make sure to call and say ‘Hi, how are you doing, are you okay, any problems, what’s your plan for the day?’ said Kiger.

“There have been occasions in the past when we needed to do a wellness check because we were not getting responses when we called. In fact, we have found people in situations where emergency service had to be notified. So it’s a very valuable service.”

The agency is currently busy making plans for its upcoming 38th annual luncheon on April 5th. This year will be the first for the event to be hosted at the Bentley Banquet and Conference Center in Wyandotte. The luncheon aims to increase advocacy while honoring members of the community.

One of those being honored this year is Ethel Stevenson of Ecorse, who recently celebrated her 103rd birthday. According to Kiger, “Our tagline is ‘Live, Age, Grow.’ She (Ethel) has exemplified that. So we are presenting her with the agency’s Edward McNamara award, which is the award we give to people that make a contribution in the world of aging and have dedicated their lives to ensuring that people age well. That’s why we chose Ethel. One, as a role model. Two, because of her contributions.”

In addition, Kiger said she hopes that the event will bring greater advocacy for the communities they serve. “We have several key issues that were advocating for, in conjunction with a regional senior advocacy group, The Silver Key Coalition. This coalition is helping to advocate for an increase in funding that comes through the state to us to provide services.”

To keep up with the demands of the growing aging population, The Senior Alliance is planning major expansions on its property. The agency purchased a 33-acre piece of property off of Venoy Rd. from Wayne County in 2015. After investing over $1.5 million in renovations, the agency moved its operations to the campus in 2016.

According to Kiger, “the agency is currently exploring various options for development of the property including potential senior housing, medical clinics, wellness centers, adult day centers, and a commercial kitchen. We are actively seeking input from architects, developers, and property management companies to help us create a vibrant campus here at our new property.”

Please visit thesenioralliance.org for additional information.

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