Older adults and their family members often do not know where to turn when a new need or crisis arises. Many aging-related community services are available for seniors in Larimer County, but a coordinated, county-wide outreach effort is underway to better reach people at various stages of care needs.
Over the past year, a community resources team has been taking a hard look at the range of services available and how local residents access them. The collaboration includes members of the Partnership for Age-Friendly Communities (PAFC), Larimer County Extension, and the Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) at Colorado State University. The goal is to determine if and how a more comprehensive and coordinated marketing approach might help improve access to resources.
Representatives from many of the agencies providing services to aging residents came together recently in a newly formed coalition to explore potential solutions. They discussed key sources and places (access points) where aging-related information might be found, displayed, and distributed. In particular, the group is interested in identifying seniors and their families who live in more isolated portions of Larimer County, and who may not have access to the array of resources available online.
“Putting all the minds together in one space provided really useful suggestions for future work,” said co-facilitator Sue Schneider, Extension agent in Larimer County.
The group identified some of the barriers to finding resources, including cultural norms that might limit a person seeking help, and the perception that seniors are reluctant to seek help for fear that they may lose their independence. Family dynamics can also play a role, several of the participants stated.
Allyson Brothers, co-facilitator and Human Development and Family Studies faculty member in the CSU College of Health and Human Sciences, reported preliminary results from a survey that is being distributed by many of the local organizations. The survey is asking respondents questions that they hope will provide a clearer picture of who is seeking resources, why, which Larimer County communities they are from, and how better connections can be made. While the survey (www.surveymonkey.com/r/accesspointssurvey) was distributed throughout January and February of 2017, it will remain open for an extended period to gather more data. Responses are welcome from all Larimer County residents.
Through this collaborative process, it is the hope that barriers to accessing aging-related resources in Larimer County will be reduced. The project will continue throughout 2017, and is funded by a-grant from the HDFS department at CSU.