Dayton Daily News: Group helps low-income seniors stay in their homes

We’ve been interested for a while in the work of the Dayton-based non-profit Rebuilding Together Dayton, which works closely with seniors to help them stay in their own homes as they age.

Here’s a conversation with Amy Radachi, the group’s president and CEO — a post she’s held since 1998.

To learn more, visit www. rtdayton .org.

 

Q: How do you create “safe and healthy homes?”

A: We utilize the seven principles of healthy housing to ensure homes are: dry, clean, pest-free, safe, contaminant-free, ventilated and maintained.

We engage 1,000 volunteers annually to participate in our Community Revitalization projects, which are coordinated efforts to build and sustain safe and healthy communities. In addition to the volunteer-focused Seasonal Revitalization Programs, our NeighborCare Program employs local contractors to complete skilled work. We specifically address falls prevention, critical maintenance and issues related to chronic conditions such as asthma.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you face? A: Most homes are not built to facilitate aging in place. Families with fewer financial resources are more likely to experience unsafe, unhealthy housing conditions and are least able to remedy them.

Rebuilding Together Dayton constantly receives referrals from area hospitals and home health providers for seniors who have recently fallen and cannot be released from the hospital or a rehabilitation facility without a home modification, such as a ramp or step-in shower. Our limited funding prevents us from fully meeting these needs. Aging in place in your own home is typically more cost-effective compared to assisted-living or nursing-home facilities.

Recent studies on Medicaid expenditures found that providing care and supportive services in the home — instead of nursing homes — resulted in savings of $22,588 to $49,078 annually per individual.

Home and community-based supportive services for older adults are not only more cost-effective, but promote good quality of life.

Q: How do these challenges affect the community? A: According to the CDC, a person’s zip code is more predictive of overall health status than his or her genetic code. The physical and social environments of neighborhoods directly impact our health, including disabilities, chronic health conditions, mental health and injuries. Premier Health performed a Community Health Needs Assessment and identified addressing chronic disease as one of their top priorities.

RTD partnered with Sinclair Community College’s Occupational Therapy students to complete 25-point home assessments for 100 senior homeowners. Outside of fall prevention interventions, the most needed repairs indicated were proper exhaust systems in the kitchen/bathrooms.

Asthma currently affects an estimated 24 million Americans, and the CDC estimates the yearly cost of asthma in the United States to be around $56 billion. Additionally, one in three older adults fall each year, resulting in an estimated 2.5 million ER visits, 700,000 hospitalizations, and approximately $34 billion in health care costs.

Many hospital visits — and re admissions — can be prevented with attention to the health and safety of the home.

Q: How can people get involved? A: All donations to RTD are tax deductible, and every dollar raised from the community generates another $4 of in-kind labor and materials. We invite volunteers to join us for our 23rd annual National Rebuilding Day on April 28. For more information, or to sign up online, please visit rtdayton.org/volunteer.

To see expanded answers to these questions and sources referenced, please visit rtdayton.org/qawithCEO.

We utilize seven principles of healthy housing to ensure homes are: dry, clean, pest-free, safe, contaminant free, ventilated and maintained.

Click here to see the article in the paper.