"You just don’t know how hard it is to be this age,” lamented an older friend of mine. “I struggle to do chores around here. Climbing stairs is difficult, and I don’t have a bedroom downstairs.”

She also described challenges with accessing health care, transportation and gaps in other services that make it hard for her to live well in her own home.

Christine Vanlandingham is chief operating officer of Region IV Area Agency on Aging in Southwest Michigan. Questions on age or independence services? Call the Info-Line for Aging & Disability at 800-654-2810 or visit areaagencyonaging.org. The Generations column appears each weekend in The Herald-Palladium.