Aging Projects Inc., a community-based website for aging support

Joanne Helppie jhelppie@yahoo.com

Abstract

BACKGROUND:  The Administration on Aging reported in 2012 that 15.8% of those over 65 were having difficulty living independently.   At the same time, families are becoming more physically distant as the children move around the country.  This has created a need for long-distance children and remote caregivers to be able to access the information they need in the locations their loved ones reside, in order to provide assistance when they cannot be there to physically provide help.  

 

Aging Projects, Inc. (API) was created as an easy-to-navigate website to provide information about maintaining the safety and quality of life to those aging at home.

 

METHODS:  Meetings 1-2 times a month commenced 6-2009 as the website skeleton was built by persons representing nonprofits, for-profits, and community volunteers.   The website was set up with under $20,000 including buying an office computer, office materials, advertising materials and paying a website developer – the only person paid on our project.  The Website Project became the nonprofit API in 10-2009 and was awarded 501(c)(3) status 12-2009.  The website went live 5-2010:  www.AgingProjectsInc.org

 

 A community consortium then met monthly for over a year to “tweak” the site. It is free to both Providers and Clients and exists on donations.  Currently, API is “in the black”. 

 

The methods of measuring whether the website was successful were three-fold:  Would the 6-Month Update Process be supported by the Providers and would this maintain the currency and relevancy of our website?  Would the number of listed providers change?  How much website activity would there be over time? 

 

RESULTS:  The number of Providers has increased since website inception to 137.  The website continues to have current and relevant information because of our 6-Month Update Process;   2/3 of providers that were on the website 6-2010 are still on the website and the ones that have left have mostly been because of business closures.  Our update process keeps us connected with our providers.  The community, businesses and distant caregivers are stakeholders in this process.   The anecdotal responses we receive from stakeholders strongly indicate that they have found this website essential to meeting care needs.  API has expanded collaboration between the private and public sectors balancing ?medical and social support services.  Families near and far are able to find helpful services in the location of their loved one.

 

CONCLUSIONS:  Aging Projects, Inc. has successfully set up a website and maintained it since May 2010 and we now offer a “plug and play” model of the site and help to any local community who wishes to emulate us. With appropriate education from early initiatives such as the work done by API,  any community can cost-effectively create and maintain an Internet website providing access to current local information and resources in order to assist its older residents to age in place.  Such a website allows distant relatives, local caregivers and the clients themselves to find help in their own communities in order for the clients to maintain the safety and quality of life as they remain at home.

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