Photo: mother and son talking

Aging in the Right Place: National campaign looks to promote holiday discussions about aging safely

Posted on December 08, 2019 by Michael Moore Jr., Herald-Tribune Media Group

Previous iterations of the Home for the Holidays program have focused on issues such as long-distance caregiving, social isolation, and loneliness, as well as strategies to help older adults transition to no longer driving.

If you are going home for the holidays to visit mom and dad and it’s been a while, then it might also be the perfect time to check in with them to see how they’re doing.

It’s with that in mind that a national campaign was born more than ten years ago with the focus of bringing up important issues for older adults in time for the holidays, raising awareness, and promoting dialogue among families when they’re most likely to be together.

This year’s Home for the Holidays education campaign, which is organized through a partnership between the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the Eldercare Locator, and the U.S. Administration for Community Living, has set its sights on home modification for those looking to age in place while retaining as much independence for as long as possible.

“The Home for the Holidays campaign started because we recognized that during the holiday season, adult children come home and they may see that mom or dad have some issues that they didn’t see the last time,” said Sandy Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. “It’s an opportunity to create a framework for a discussion around issues and also a pathway to help get those issues resolved.”

This year’s theme of home modification, she said, really grew out of research done by the University of Southern California’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, which showed it as an area of increasing need among older adults.

That was reinforced by the growing number of calls on the topic made to the Eldercare Locator, a national hotline that acts as a resource to connect older adults to local programs designed to help them age safely.

“People want to stay in their homes, but their homes aren’t meeting their needs,” said Markwood. “People are concerned about what changes they need to make and whom to go through to make these modifications, and it can be confusing and overwhelming.”

To help educate the public about this year’s issue, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging has produced a consumer brochure called “Modifying Your Home for Healthy Aging” and a toolkit containing resources that organizations in the Aging Network can use to educate communities about home modification.

Among the lessons in the brochure is that not every home modification has to be a large undertaking or a significant expense. There are little things that can be done, such as removing rugs, installing better lighting, and using nonskid carpets, which can go a long way toward improving your quality of life. Even something like grab bars can help someone tremendously when it comes to safely navigating their own home.

The brochure, she said, is just meant as a starting point for older adults who are curious about looking into home modifications, but also includes “links to more in-depth resources that will help guide you through the process once you are ready to be engaged.” From there, Markwood recommends that you call the Eldercare Locator, which can then help further guide you along the journey by connecting you with the right local resources for the job.

You can find the brochure and additional resources at For more information, call The National Call Center for the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 or visit them at The call center operates five days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

This story comes from Aspirations Journalism, an initiative of The Patterson Foundation and Sarasota Herald-Tribune to inform, inspire, and engage the community to take action on issues related to Age-Friendly Sarasota, Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, National Council on Aging and the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition.

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