Why is Philanthropedia identifying high-impact nonprofits in the field of aging?
In fewer than 25 years, one in five people will be 65 years or older in the U.S. (Source) The baby boomer generation is becoming older and the biggest increase in population will be among those 85 years or older.
However, very few foundations fund in the space of aging and not a lot of individual philanthropic dollars go to this field. Only 2-4% of all philanthropy benefits seniors of any kind, and of that only 30% benefit low income seniors. Many experts I spoke with expressed concern that this country will not be able to meet the demands of the unbelievably high aging population if more money and resources aren’t devoted to this sector.
As a result, Philanthropedia (at GuideStar) decided to conduct research in the field of older adults in the hopes of channeling more money to some of the best nonprofits working in this space. There is a need to devote more resources and attention to issues surrounding older adults in the U.S., and we hope you will help with this effort.
What types of nonprofits are we including in the research?
In total, I interviewed eleven influential experts in the field to better understand the scope of this issue area (thank you to those of you who shared your expertise with me to help shape the scope of this research)! As a result of those conversations we are including nonprofits that are working in the following areas:
Health Care, Care-Giving, and Long-Term Support Services
Health is one of the major topics concerning older adults. More than 50 percent of older adults have two or more chronic diseases and 90 percent have one chronic disease. Some of the commonly known diseases affecting the older population are arthritis, Parkinson, Alzheimer, and other types of dementia. Types of nonprofits we are considering in our research include ones that provide health care, offer financial assistance, work with caregivers and support services for family members, and train professionals working in this sector.
With chronic diseases being so prevalent in older adults, a lot of seniors are spending more than 25 percent of their income on out-of-pocket health care costs. As a result, there is a need to provide financial support, protect older adults’ Medicare, Medicaid and social security, and educate the younger generation that Medicare will only be able to pay for half of their needs in the future. Some other types of nonprofits that work in this space include organizations that are providing care-giving services, training for caregivers, or support services for family members who are caregivers. Enhancing and expanding the training of doctors, nurses, social workers, and other health professionals who care for elders is also crucial to retaining skilled workers in this field. Other types of nonprofits that fall under this category include ones that disseminate information and services about healthy aging, provide home delivered meals, and offer social and psychological services for older adults.
Most seniors must face the decision of where to live as they grow older. Their options are usually either aging in place or living in institutionalized care. Aging in place refers to older adults choosing to live independently or live with a family member. Institutionalized care includes respite care, group homes, retirement homes, or long term care in nursing homes. Aging in place is a strong preference for some seniors but can only be feasible for many if there are organizations that provide home-care services to assist those seniors.
Affordable institutionalized care, housing, and services to let older adults age in place are scarce. In almost all rural areas and most inner city areas, there is a short fall in the level of resources relative to the level of need. In addition, providing affordable housing affects a large percentage of older adults (including those 50+). The older adult population suffers disproportionately from economic recessions because they have less time to recover compared to the younger population. To illustrate this point, in this last recession, one in five older adults had their houses foreclosed. Providing older adults with affordable housing, can help them become economically secure.
In addition to suffering from foreclosure, older adults are sometimes the first ones to lose their jobs and suffer the most from a decrease in home income and interest rates, making this population the most financially vulnerable. In addition, even with social security and Medicare, 25-40 percent of older adults don’t have enough income to cover their daily expenses. Older adults are also living longer which eats away at their savings so the next generation of older adults will be at even greater financial risk. Nonprofits that work on advocacy to protect substantial cuts in Medicare and Medicaid and ones that offer financial assistance and guidance, prevent discrimination against older adults in the workplace, and help older adults make career changes play a crucial role in helping older adults gain economic security.
Other types of issues pertaining to older adults that don’t fall in the above three categories include transportation, civic engagement, socialization, and prevention of elderly abuse.
Transportation is important because it helps older adults maintain their mobility. Civic engagement helps older adults, who now live longer and healthier lives, get their concerns and issues heard. Socialization includes providing continuing education (computer literacy classes, therapeutic arts programs, etc.), meeting points for socialization (senior centers and adult day services/adult day care), and opportunities for volunteering. Volunteering is a great way to keep older adults engaged in society and provide a great opportunity for younger people to interact with older adults.
What is the scope of our research?
We are asking experts to recommend both national and local high-impact nonprofits because most experts suggested local nonprofits offer most of the on-the-ground, direct services to the older adult populations. Therefore, we are asking experts to recommend up to three national nonprofits and three local/state nonprofits that work in one or more of the following areas:
1. Health Care, Care-giving, and Long Term Support Services: nonprofits that provide health care services, care-giving, training for caregivers, support for family members, and financial support services for older adults’ health care needs.
2. Housing: nonprofits that provide affordable housing, services to help older adults age in place, and assisted living.
3. Economic Security: nonprofits that offer financial assistance, guidance on retirement, and support for older adults in the workforce.
4. Other services: nonprofits that work in the areas of transportation, civic engagement, socialization and prevention of elderly abuse.
Nonprofits can be direct-service providers, coalitions, advocacy organizations, associations, or research organizations.
If you are an expert in nonprofits working with older adults, you should have received an email from us with a link to our survey and we hope you will share your perspective and insights with us! If for some reason we have missed you and you think you have a valuable perspective to offer, please contact me, Dawn at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we would love to invite you to participate in our research.
Additionally, I’m sure I haven’t been able to capture every nuance in this sector, so I invite your feedback and thoughts about how you might think about this work. For those readers less familiar with this topic, I hope you learned something new and will tune in again when we have the results of this research. Thank you all for your participation!