Saturday, January 14, 2012

Keeping OC's elderly in their homes

Seniors Can Access Host of Programs and Services

TOMS RIVER – From outreach services to assistance around the house, the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders is making certain Ocean County's elderly can access help in order to live independently and maintain their quality of life.

The Board of Freeholders is scheduled to award 36 competitive contracts to a host of service providers that will assist senior citizens living in the County. The contracts, totaling almost $2.3 million, are scheduled to be awarded during the board's regular meeting at 4 p.m., Jan. 18.

"Ocean County has the largest percentage of seniors in the state," said Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of Senior Services. "We want to make certain our programs can help all segments of our senior population. The Ocean County Office of Senior Services will oversee a total of 52 contracts with 22 governmental and non-profit agencies in 2012 totaling over $5.3 million."

Vicari noted that with these providers, more than 35,000 people will be able to access services.

"We anticipate that 547,979 units of service will be provided in 2012," Vicari said. "Services range from our nutrition programs to helping our seniors remain safe in their homes."

Vicari noted that nutrition program contracts were awarded to Community Services, Inc. late last year for 2012 and the Kosher Home Delivered Meals were being approved during Jan. 18 meeting.

"The projection for both programs is approximately 285,000 meals in 2012," Vicari said. "Our nutrition programs could be considered the centerpiece for our senior services. These daily hot meals are often a lifeline for the frail and disabled bringing not only nutritional value but also social contact.

"This program is so important because 63 percent of home delivered meals clients are at high nutritional risk and 93 percent are at moderate to high nutritional risk," Vicari said. "Home delivered meals help keep our most vulnerable seniors healthy and provides them with the security someone is watching out for them."

Other support areas include transportation, legal services, caregiver services, care management, benefits screening, chore services and a host of others.

"Access to information and assistance is a major focus for the Office of Senior Services," Vicari said. "There were 151 community presentations made to county residents in 2011 and Senior Services staff responded to a total of 12,106 callers/walk-ins at the office at 1027 Hooper Avenue.

Additionally there were 12,000 visitors to the Senior Services website."

Outreach sites plan to provide 18,830 older adults and caregivers with 54,541 units of information and assistance/assessments in 2012.

"We will continue to meet the challenge of 10,000 ‘baby boomers' a day turning 65 with essential Medicare information and education," Vicari said "As the population gets older we will be there to help."

Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little commended the staff of Senior Services and Freeholder Vicari for the pro-active approach taken in providing programs and services for seniors.

"From such progressive programs like "Take Control of Your Health" to participating in seminars that help raise awareness and educate seniors about potential scams and other issues, our Office of Senior Services is a leader in the state of New Jersey," Little said.

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