Today’s aging baby boomers have different needs than the generation of seniors before them. That’s why Homage Senior Services is refining its approach to meet the growing demand for senior care.
Formerly known as Senior Services of Snohomish County, Homage’s name change is one example of how the field of senior care is changing across the country to appeal to a new generation of retirees.
“Senior-services organizations have rebranded,” said Homage CEO Steve McGraw. “They’ve refreshed how they project themselves to be more in alignment with the new seniors.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the baby-boomer generation accounts for 76.4 million people who are either retired or reaching retirement age. McGraw said as an organization dedicated to senior care, it’s important that Homage remain appealing to its growing audience, whose needs are different than their parents before them.
“They see a sign that says ‘senior center’ they’re not going to relate,” he said.
In addition to Homage’s name change, the rebranding effort included relocating to Lynnwood’s historic Wight’s Home & Garden building on 196th Street Southwest In August 2018. Homage moved from its three separate locations across Snohomish County and has since been able to provide efficient and centralized care, McGraw said.
“In terms of staff and staff morale, we get to know each other and feel part of a larger whole to communicate with each other,” he said. “By doing that we are able to more quickly talk about our clients and our clients’ needs.”
With Homage’s prime location in busy Lynnwood, McGraw said in the year since moving into the Wight’s building the organization has had more walk-ins than in the organization’s history.
“In terms of wanting more visibility, there’s hard evidence right there that we’re succeeding,” he said.
Homage is known primarily for its Meals on Wheels program and partnership with Community Transit for Dial-a-Ride Transportation (DART), which provides transportation for seniors and those with disabilities throughout the county. During the week, Homage also hosts culturally-specific social gatherings for members of the Latino/Hispanic, Korean, Chinese, Filipino and Vietnamese communities.
The organization also helps seniors navigate systems like Medicare and Medicaid and other social services. In addition, Homage offers a volunteer-based, home-repair and modification program to install grab bars and ramps, making homes safer so seniors can live in their homes longer, said Senior Marketing and Communications Manager Cynthia Andrews.
“If they can stay, then they’re in their home and they’re independent as opposed to trying to find placement in (senior) facilities,” she said.
One of Homage’s fastest-growing programs is the family caregiver program, which provides resources to assistance to people caring for seniors in their family. The program helps to eliminate the stress often associated with caring for a loved one by helping them access resources, Andrews said.
“Anything that will help to ease that stress or help get them services so they can continue to care for their loved one,” Andrews said.
Homage also has a call center which that offers counselling services for seniors who are struggling with mental health issues or drug addiction issues. These have become increasingly important in the wake of the opioid epidemic as seniors are often disregarded when discussing addiction issues, McGraw said.
“A lot of the attention is on the younger adults, but older adults are on lots of medication,” he said. “They’re dealing with chronic pain, they’re older, they’re given a prescription and they’re hooked.”
Through Homage, seniors can volunteer to work with children in the community. Whether it is holding babies in hospitals or helping children with reading, seniors are able to work with children who may not have grandparents or are in the foster care system.
“It helps kids who just need an extra hug or an extra hand,” Anderson said.
Through its programs and resources, Homage is able to achieve its goal of helping seniors to live at home with ease and comfort as long as they are able. The alternative would either have seniors spend their remaining days a nursing home or living with family members, which is both of which are not ideal for seniors or society, McGraw said.
Ensuring that seniors can stay in their homes is ““It’s not only the most desired by the client, it’s also the most cost effective for society,” he said. “It costs far less to help people age at home than it does to maintain residential facilities.”
–Story and photos by Cody Sexton