City Transformation, Education, News

Wayne State University and American House Senior Living Communities team up to make golden years golden for Detroit seniors


As one of Detroit Unspun’s senior members (chronologically-speaking), I thought it was time to write about a subject that’s not gotten much attention in news coverage about metro Detroit …gerontology… the process of aging.

The news coverage today is about Detroit’s comeback fight and how important it is to get the state’s young people to stay home and help make Detroit a better place to live.

YES, the region needs to fight to keep and attract its future citizens, but we all need to acknowledge that there are plenty of older folks living in Detroit who can be mentors and tapping into their knowledge will help dramatically our city’s transformation.

We also need to acknowledge that there are plenty of older folks living in Detroit who could use help in these their golden years. It’s been said a truly successful community is measured by how well it provides for its members most in need. The U.S. population of older Americans (65+) is currently growing at 300% and the rate of general population adults over the age of 85 will double by 2015. There is a great urgency to find answers to the problems that the older adults and their families face.

Wayne State University is on it. Its Institute of Gerontology  (IOG) not only does research on aging. About five years ago, it partnered with American House Senior Living Communities to help create the American House Foundation to improve the quality of life for older adults.

In Southeast Michigan there are 25 American House communities in the five-county metro Detroit area raising money to benefit local seniors for things like medical supplies, ramps for those with limited mobility, dentures, home appliances and personal items.  Items that many of us take for granted make a huge difference to the quality of life for the elderly.

Since its founding by Bob Gillette and his son Rob, the AHF has provided $500,000 in financial grants for seniors in the city and surrounding local communities.  Additionally, 30% of all funds raised by the foundation have been generously committed to the IOG in support of researching aging-related issues.

American House Foundation partners with local area nonprofits to identify  needy seniors who are not residents of American House communities. Current partnerships include Detroit-based Adult Well-Being Services, The Hannan Foundation of Detroit, Macomb County Habitat for Humanity, Lighthouse of Oakland County,  Wayne County’s Senior Alliance for independent living and The Information Center’s family resource services of SE Michigan.

One of the foundation’s many fundraising efforts is its annual “Holiday Hope for Seniors” campaign begun by seniors wishing to help less-fortunate neighbors — seniors helping seniors.

Recently, staffers of the American House Senior Living Communities packed more than 1,400 Giving Tree gift bags for delivery to area seniors.  Additionally, throughout the holiday season, all 25 American House communities will be selling paper Christmas ornaments with 100 percent of all donations going directly to needy area seniors. Earlier in the blog I referenced that a successful community is measured by how well it provides for its most vulnerable members. I hope all reading this post might take the time to make a donation and support an elderly neighbor in need.

For more information on Wayne State University’s Institute of Gerontology visit the Institute’s web site.

Happy Holidays to all. I wish everyone an ageless and healthy New Year.

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