Remembering Helen Holt: A Champion For the Elderly

While many might consider Medicare the biggest milestone impacting America's elderly population, one could argue that the championing of elder care began with Helen F. Holt (1913-2015), former secretary of state in West Virginia, who passed away earlier this month.

After serving as the first woman in statewide office in West Virginia from 1957-1959, Holt went on to become widely recognized for her work on long-term care facilities at the national level, helping to provide insured mortgages to build more than 1,000 nursing homes with 100,000 beds under a federal program established by what is now the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Notably, however, Holt also understood the downside of placing the elderly in institutions and recognized that seniors need different kinds of care based on their unique health condition. Accordingly, she played a key role in helping to create what are now known as assisted-living facilities for people who did not need full nursing home care.

Today, thanks to technology, the caregiving landscape is in the midst of a significant transformation, and the option of in-home partial or full-time care is becoming more financially feasible. In fact, with CareLinx, families in need of home care for loved ones can hire a qualified, professional caregiver for about 50 percent less than if they hired the same person through an agency.

While nursing homes and assisted-living facilities may seem like the prudent option when the care of a loved one requires expertise that is beyond the capabilities of a family member for those that have the financial means, they can also contribute to the loss of identity, daily control and independence that remains crucial for the elderly to age healthy and happily. CareLinx is now partnering with assisted living facilities to help extend their care services into their clients' homes so they can age in place longer.

Research has shown that the vast majority of aging adults prefer to stay in their current home as long as they can. In carrying out our mission of helping the elderly do just that - at an affordable price - we're mindful of Helen Holt's advocacy on behalf of the elderly, and think she would be proud. How fitting that she herself lived well into her elder years, passing away at the age of 101.

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