Thanks to medical advances, good nutrition and exercise, Americans are living longer than ever. Over the past century, life expectancy in the U.S. has increased by three decades, and by 2030, the over-65 population will reach 70 million. This surge has created a greater need for services that help seniors stay safe and productive.
St. Andrew’s Resources for Seniors (STARS)
Founded nearly 50 years ago, STARS reaches about 5,000 area seniors each year. “We’re dedicated to exploring the needs of aging people, nurturing their spiritual growth, and developing skills and resources to meet their needs,” says president/CEO Mary Alice Ryan. “We empower seniors and caregivers by giving them choices and options so they can lead a more vital life.”
STARS carries out its mission by providing about 20 senior housing options throughout Missouri and Illinois, from HUD-subsidized apartments for low-income seniors to high-end retirement communities and assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. “We also offer in-home care and supportive services to seniors and their families,” Ryan says. “And we help other organizations that serve the elderly by providing innovative, cost-effective services and consultation related to housing, community services and health care.”
STARS’ wide range of senior care and caregiver resources includes support services, such as light housekeeping and home maintenance for seniors who want to remain independent in their homes, and workplace programs and counseling for ‘sandwich generation’ employees who are caring for children and aging parents at the same time. “We cover all the bases, giving the elderly and their families as many choices as possible,” Ryan says. “A safe, secure environment for seniors is the best preventive medicine.”
Home Services Inc.
When a senior needs a wheelchair ramp added to their home but can’t afford it, or if their roof needs fixing but they’re no longer agile enough to climb a ladder, it’s a good thing they live in St. Louis. Home Services Inc. is a nonprofit agency that makes home repairs and improvements at little or no cost for the elderly and persons with disabilities in St. Louis City. “For many people, minor home repairs or tasks are challenging or even impossible,” says executive director John Vincenzo. “We help our clients remain independent in their homes for as long as they choose.”
Founded in 1976, the organization is a licensed general contractor serving about 1,500 individuals a year. To be considered as a candidate for home repairs, a person must be 55 or older or disabled, own a home and live in the city. “With the help of grants, we employ a group of professional plumbers, electricians and carpenters,” Vincenzo says. Services include bathroom and kitchen modifications, installation of wheelchair lifts, and weatherization. “You name it, we do it,” he says. “We also recruit student volunteers. Our professionals appreciate the help; the kids enjoy interacting with our clients; and our clients love being around young people.”
Founded in 1982 by a group of educators and volunteers, OASIS offers volunteering opportunities and programs in the arts, humanities, wellness and technology for St. Louisans age 50 and older. “Our mission is to enrich the lives of older adults through lifelong learning and service,” says Allison Woodworth, education program manager. “We bring people together to learn, lead and contribute to their communities.”
Originally funded by the U.S. Administration on Aging as a two-year, four-city pilot project, OASIS now has branches in 27 cities. Participants enjoy classes in financial and legal issues, history and the arts, and have access to fitness classes and health screenings sponsored by BJC Healthcare, a major supporter. “Thanks to a grant with AT&T, we also offer computer classes so older adults can develop technological skills to use at home and work,” Woodworth says. “OASIS is all about helping people find productive ways to use their talents, explore their interests, and lead healthier, more vibrant lives.”