May is Older Americans Month (OAM) celebrating the contributions of older workers and Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS) has a specific focus on those with disabilities.
It is a privilege to enjoy longer lives and careers but we also can experience the challenges of aging as it impacts our health and mobility. As member of our State Rehabilitation Council reminded us; all of us can experience disability at any point during our careers, sometimes temporary and sometimes not.
It is part of the mission of Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS) to help Iowans overcome the barriers they experience throughout their careers. Older workers can benefit from assistive technology to help with mobility, hearing, vision or other issues that can arise. This allows older workers to share their expertise and experience and provide a valuable resource in the workforce. It also allows older workers to participate and contribute to their communities and remain engaged and productive as they age.
IVRS has an Assistive Technology Specialist, Robert Hendrickson who is able to provide specific solutions for a variety of needs. Hendrickson also leads a state Assistive Technology (AT) cadre where staff have expertise in various areas of AT assessment. Whether it is construction/building adaptations, transportation modifications or the latest technology with drones or software, IVRS AT is able to “make it work.”
Mary was referred to the Independent Living Program by a case worker with Iowa Total Care. She lives by herself in a rented elderly housing apartment.
Mary had significant mobility limitations that limited her ability to independently get around in her apartment, complex and community. This left her mostly isolated in her apartment much of the time.
Bob met with Mary to provide Independent Living services -- mainly to address her independent living mobility limitations.
Mary was given information and referrals to vendors who could provide her with bids for a scooter to address her mobility limitations.
She was provided counseling related to her needs, and ways to request mobility vendors come to her home to properly measure her to ensure a proper fitting scooter, provide information about scooter options and provide the training needed to safely operate the scooter.
She was advised not to simply accept a bid without measurements, options, and training. That criteria was used to determine an appropriate scooter vendor.
Because of the information and referral, as well as the counseling related to what she should require of the vendors, Mary was able to get a vendor to come to her home and measure her for the appropriately sized scooter, check her apartment door widths, and ensure she had a place to store the scooter. That vendor actually provided a bid that included delivery, set up, and training on how to use the scooter.
Another vendor would only quote over the phone and did not take into consideration the need for a bigger seat or scooter.
Mary was able to purchase the scooter from the vendor that actually came to her home and provided a great overall experience related to her scooter purchase.
Mary now has the increased ability to care for herself and be mobile. She can independently get to and from goods and services within her community with her new scooter and now she has an overall increased sense of self and freedom.
ACL has created a series of resources to help you spread the word about OAM.
Additionally, the official Proclamation on Older Americans Month from the White House is now available.