Agencies Focused on Keeping Seniors Safe in Their Homes

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Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 6.34.42 AMBy Barbara Peterson, M.S.

Based on the last census in 2010, more than half (56.5 percent) of persons age 65+ lived in 11 states, including 2 million in Pennsylvania. Persons 65+ constituted approximately 15.5 percent of the total population in Pennsylvania, while in Allegheny County the percentage was 16.8 percent.

According to the federal Administration on Aging, most persons 65+ lived in metropolitan areas in 2010 (78.9 percent). Also, seniors are less likely to change residence than other age groups. From 2009 to 2010, only 5.8 percent of older persons moved as opposed to 16.9 percent of the under 65 population, according to government statistics.

In addition, according to Prevent Blindness America, the number of Pennsylvanians with age-related eye disease, including blindness, could more than double over the next three decades.

What this means for Allegheny County is that as the number of seniors living here continues to rise, agencies serving this population need to intensify their focus on keeping our older residents healthy and safe in their own homes.

With United Way of Allegheny County funding, two nonprofits—Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh (BVRS) and Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh (RTP)—have joined forces to better serve the health and home safety needs of seniors in Allegheny County. The program helps seniors with vision problems by providing counseling, caregiver instruction and home modification.

Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh, a 103-year-old private nonprofit, also provides programs and services for people of all ages who are blind, visually impaired or who have other disabilities: comprehensive and personalized computer instruction, employment and vocational services, personal adjustment to blindness training, independence skill building, in-home instruction, low vision services, children’s vision screening, prevention of blindness services, and an industrial employment program. BVRS is a United Way Impact Fund Award for Excellence Agency and is accredited by the National Accreditation Council for Blind and Low Vision Services (NAC).

Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh is a non-profit organization that repairs and renovates the homes of low-income, elderly homeowners and individuals with physical disabilities. Its vision is a safe and healthy home for every person. RTP unites people of all walks of life in an effort to rebuild homes and repair lives. All home repair services are provided free of charge to qualifying homeowners.

Barbara Peterson, M.S., is director of client services at Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh. For more information on Blind & Vision Rehab Services, call 412-368-4400 or visit www.blindvr.org. For more information on Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh, call 412-922-0953 or visit www.rtpittsburgh.org.