The Flint Valley Area Agency on Aging (VAAA), which serves Genesee, Lapeer and Shiawassee counties, is one of 16 Area Agencies on Aging in Michigan, according to Yaushica Aubert, President/CEO. The Agency was established by the Older Americans Act of 1965 and the State Older Michiganian Act to meet the needs of a growing aging population, she explains. It is governed by an Executive Board comprised of elected officials and a volunteer senior citizen majority. There are approximately 70 employees with the VAAA – mostly nurses and social workers – and a very large service area to cover.
According to its mission statement, VAAA “provides answers, action and advocacy on care for the elderly and disabled adults of Genesee, Lapeer and Shiawassee Counties by enhancing lives, empowering choice, sustaining independence and supporting caregivers and families.”
“We are all things senior,” says Aubert.
Aubert was promoted to her position as President/CEO in October 2018, replacing her successor, Kathryn Boles, and has been with the agency in various positions for 19 years. She started as a social worker/case manager and was also director of several different programs. Before becoming the CEO/President, she served for three years as vice president of operations.
Born and raised in Flint, Aubert not only loves working with the aging population, helping the elderly also has personal meaning to her. “My grandparents raised me,” she shares. “When they got older, they were both sick at the same time, and I don’t know what I would have done without the support of the services offered by VAAA.”
“I consider it an honor and a privilege to help a
senior live on their own for as long as possible.”
There are many seniors living alone who need help. Family members move out of state and the senior stays behind, leaving them without a caregiver. “There is also a large population of seniors who don’t have kids,” she reports. VAAA provides many services and programs for seniors who are living independently. “We arrange for services and monitor the services that have been implemented,” Aubert reports. A social worker goes to the home for an assessment, which takes about four hours. The agency then determines whether a senior qualifies for home meals, personal care, respite care and more. There is a large network of providers for these services.
VAAA also assists seniors who have been living in a nursing home or in assisted living to move back into the community. Last year, the agency transitioned approximately 100 seniors back to community living (independently, with family members or assisted living). “Seniors prefer to be on their own,” Aubert admits, adding that living in a nursing home can be expensive. “I consider it an honor and a privilege to help a senior live on their own for as long as possible,” says Aubert.
Although the VAAA is there to assist seniors, Aubert says it is important for family members to be involved. “Your parents, aunts and uncles were there for you when you were growing up,” she notes. “Now, you need to help care for them. Don’t forget about our seniors. They need us.”
The need for senior services continues to rise in Flint and in Genesee County. Last year, the VAAA provided information and assistance to 5,000 people. The agency gets referrals from doctors, hospitals, social workers and nursing homes, and word-of-mouth. “The aging population is increasing,” Aubert says.
What does Aubert like best about her job? “I love helping a senior stay at home and seeing their gratitude,” she shares. “I work with an amazing team. They are passionate about their work and believe in our mission. I love my job! There isn’t anything I would rather do.”
Did you know?
- Every day, 10,000 Americans turn 60 years old, and this will continue into the 2030s.
- There are 90,715 60+ seniors residing in Genesee County and of those, 15,790 live in poverty.
- The City of Flint has 17,265 60+ senior residents and approximately 30 percent live in poverty, almost double the Genesee County total.
- More than 600 frail or homebound seniors or caregivers who need assistance are on the wait-list for services such as personal care (bath), home delivered meals and respite.
Statistics provided by VAAA
Programs Available at VAAA MI Choice Waiver Program
The goal of this program is to help eligible persons to obtain the services they need to live at home as independently as possible. A comprehensive array of supportive services is provided under the direction of a care management team of both a nurse and social worker. The purpose is to prevent an unnecessary move into a nursing home.
Care Management Program
This program provides services for persons 60-plus years of age who need assistance managing their care. Eligible participants receive the services of a nurse and a social worker (Supports Coordinators) who complete a comprehensive assessment at the person’s home. After the assessment, the Supports Coordinators, along with the participant and his/her family, develop a care plan.
Crisis Intervention Program
The Crisis Intervention Program provides short-term care management and in-home care services for seniors who have a short-term health care crisis.
Home Delivered Meals Program
This program provides nutritionally balanced meals (including meals designed for special diets) daily to homebound seniors to reduce nutritional risk. There is no charge for this program, but donations are suggested.
Nursing Facility Transition Program
The Nursing Facility Transition Program (NFT) provides transition assistance for individuals residing in a nursing home who wish to return to community living.
For more info about the VAAA programs and services or to donate, call 810.239.7671 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photography by Kayce McClure