Project Independence : A Unique Model for Aging in Suburbia

October 3, 2022
Hosted by Ron Roel

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Episode Description

More than a decade ago, officials from the Town of North Hempstead on Long Island noticed a significant trend in the Town’s Census data: the region’s older population—residents aged 75 to 84—increased 40%, while those over 85 had increased 60%, since the last national census. They also had discovered another important trend: many of these older residents were long-time members of their community who wanted to remain in their homes, aging in place independently for as long as possible. So the Town created an innovative program called Project Independence, which over the years has grown into a multi-faceted program with one primary goal: to help seniors live healthy, active and engaged lives by connecting them to valuable services and programs in their communities. In today’s episode, Rebecca Miller, Deputy Director of the Town of Hempstead’s Department of Services for the Aging, will talk about how Project Independence serves thousands of local seniors every year, linking them to health care professionals, social workers, taxi rides to doctors, shopping, socialization and fitness programs and home-repair services. Rebecca will describe how the program has created unique partnership with community organizations, health care professionals, social service agencies and businesses. And she will explain how Project Independence has evolved into a nationally recognized NORC—a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community. While NORCs have been springing up across the country, they’re more common in urban settings—which has made Project Independence a distinctive and valuable model for suburban communities across America.

45 Forward

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Ron Roel

I’m a veteran journalist who spent a wide-ranging career covering business, politics and social issues, the last two decades focusing on the blend of diverse life skills I call successful aging.

I have written extensively on aging topics, spoken at conferences, radio and TV shows, and launched several entrepreneurial ventures, discovering along the way that the path to aging well also requires an unexpected entrepreneurial vision. I spent 20 years as a writer and editor at Long Island’s daily newspaper, Newsday, helping to found Act 2, a weekly section for 50-plus readers. I created Roelresources.com, a website offering practical advice and inspirational essays for people ages 40 and above. I have been a volunteer and consultant to AARP Long Island, writing articles, advocating for seniors, and developing action plans for the AARP Age-Friendly Communities initiative.

I am active in programs and organizations that support seniors, such as the National Aging In Place Council and the Senior Umbrella Network. I have developed a special expertise in family caregiving, as one of four brothers who took care of their mother for almost 25 years. I regularly collaborate with many professionals who provide services and support for older Americans, and I am completing a book for caregivers on Long Island, “The Caregiving Navigator/How to Plan, What to do, and Where to Turn When Caring for you Aging Loved Ones. And Yourself,” scheduled for publication in early 2021.

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