Jackson County Council on Aging offers a variety of services to seniors in Jackson County. Six centers provide hot well balanced meals in the centers as well as activities and information. Meals are also delivered from these centers to the homebound elderly who have nobody else to prepare a meal for them.
These centers give many of the seniors a reason to get out of bed in the morning. The centers provide seniors the opportunity to socialize with friends, to volunteer their time, to exercise and learn about health issues and services available to them. All these things are designed to help keep seniors healthy and independent as long as possible. As persons lose family and friends it is extremely important to make new friends and to be productive and these centers meet these needs.
Homemaker service is provided to persons who are on Medicaid and meet certain criteria for nursing home admission. CoA sends staff in to the home to do housekeeping, grocery shopping, meal preparation etc.
CoA also sends staff in to help relieve the primary caregiver of an older person who needs a break and who has been approved for service. A limited number of hours are also available to help persons in an emergency such as when first released from the hospital.
Transportation is provided to the public as well as seniors. The transportation program makes it possible for some people to work, to go to dialysis, to get to doctors’ appointments, grocery shop, to get to the centers, pay bills, and on and on the list goes. Some students are taken to the alternative school and some to Mountain Lakes Behavioral Health Center.
CoA staff assist seniors with selecting and applying for a Medicare Part D Plan and assist those who are eligible to apply for the extra help with their Medicare and Part D premiums. The staff also completes applications for seniors for the farmers’ market vouchers. AARP volunteers provide free income tax preparation and an attorney assists seniors with non-fee generating services.
The Senior Center also offers a variety of exercise classes such as low impact aerobics, arthritis exercise, yoga, tai chi, and exercise equipment. Classes in art, photography, wellness, computers, crafts, etc. are offered as well as games, luncheons and breakfasts.
The Council on Aging has been operating on the same amount of local matching funds from the county commission since 2002. At the same time Gov. Riley took office CoA received a cut in aging program funds and continues to operate on less than it had at that time. Requests to the commission for additional funds have been denied so CoA relies on fund raising, donations and most of all, the legislative delegation for assistance to continue operating the centers and buses.
CoA has been told to expect a 28 percent cut in aging program funds for FY 2013. This will be in addition to a more than $40,000 deficit for 2012. If this happens it could mean closing centers and eliminating some bus routes. These programs are of vital importance to citizens of Jackson County and the CoA board is asking for support from elected officials to help fund these programs in order to keep seniors active.