The Loan Closet, a Howard County resource that provides refurbished medical equipment to residents, reopened Thursday at a new location in Columbia to accommodate the increasing community demand.
The center processes free donated medical and therapeutic equipment to repurpose it for others to use, as well as helping fit and install equipment within the community.
Updates to the new Loan Closet include an increase to being open 40 hours per week, an increase in facility space from 3,000 to 7,500 square feet, and the ability to accept and distribute pediatric and high-tech assistive devices.
This is the third location for the Loan Closet, which has been open in the county since 2004. The most recent move was from the Long Reach Village Center to its new location on Riverwood Drive in Columbia.
“We’ve seen the use and need for these services grow significantly in the past three years, with more than 12,000 residents seeking assistive devices, saving families nearly $5 million,” County Executive Calvin Ball said in a statement. “With this new space there is also an expansion of services and accessibility, allowing us to continue working toward a community that improves the quality of life for residents of all ages and abilities.”
According to an American Community Survey from 2017, 13% of the population in Howard County is ages 65 or older. By 2030, one in five Howard County residents will be 65 or older.
In the past three-and-a-half years, more than 12,000 residents and 21,000 pieces of equipment have been processed at the Loan Closet.
According to a 2016 report from the Maryland Department of Aging, of the nearly 5.8 million people in Maryland in 2015, 18.35% were ages 60 or over. This percentage is expected to increase to 25.4% of Maryland’s projected population of 6.7 million by 2030.
The Loan Closet is run by the Howard County Office on Aging and Independence and nonprofits Equipment Connections for Children, Maryland Technology Assistance Program and Rebuilding Together.
The Maryland Department of Aging also said individuals between the ages of 80 and 84 are the fastest growing segment of the population. This group is expected to see a 136% increase, from 96,437 in 2015 to 227,527 by 2040.