Freeholder Vicari: Seniors Can Count On Continued County Programs And Services in 2013

Whether you are a baby boomer turning 65 or a member of the 85 plus population, a host of programs and services will continue to be made available to OceanCounty’s seniors in 2013.

“The Ocean County Office of Senior Services and its provider network anticipates assisting 32,000 people in the New Year,” said Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as Chairman of Senior Services. “We anticipate providing 487,000 units of service.”

The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders is scheduled to vote on 35 competitive contracts totaling about $2.3 million during its Jan. 16 meeting. The services were discussed during a preboard meeting of the board on Jan. 9.

From information to transportation to nutrition programs, the Ocean County Office of Senior Services serves as a clearinghouse for a number of support areas including transportation, legal services, caregiver services, care management, benefits screening, and chore services.

“We want the aging population that callsOceanCountyhome to be able to access programs and services that will provide a quality of life that comes with good health and allows for independent living,” said Freeholder Director John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety. “We work hand in hand with many service providers so that our seniors can enjoy their retirement years.”

The Office of Senior Services will oversee a total of 42 Senior Area Plan Contracts with 22 governmental and non-profit agencies totaling more than $5.3 million in 2013.

Contracts to Community Services Inc., which oversees the county’s nutrition programs including home delivered meals were awarded at the end of 2012. However, the contract to provide Kosher Home Delivered Meals will be approved at the board’s Jan. 16 meeting. Combined, the nutrition programs will provide approximately 270,000 meals in 2013.

“These meals are often a lifeline for the frail and disabled bringing not only nutritional value but by providing needed social contact,” Vicari said. “We just completed the nutrition screening for 2012 and 65 percent of home delivered meals clients are at high nutritional risk and 93 percent are at moderate to high nutritional risk.

“It is imperative these programs continue in the New Year and we make certain our at risk seniors are provided with the nutrition they need,” Vicari said.

Access to information and assistance is also a major focus for the Office of Senior Services. There were 117 presentations made to the public in 2012. Senior Services staff responded to a total of 10,381 callers/walk-ins and there were 13,295 visitors to the Senior Services website as of December 31, 2012.

Outreach/care management sites plan to provide 20,171 older adults and caregivers with 53,024 units of information and assistance/assessments in 2013.

“We will continue to meet the challenge of the 10,000 ‘baby boomers’ a day turning 65 with essential Medicare information and education,” Vicari said. “We are number one in the state for the number of SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program) contacts. We are ranked second in the state with 137,762 individuals eligible for Medicare.”

Meanwhile, the county also provided 126 Take Control of Your Health sessions in 2012 involving over 200 participants.

“Our seniors who completed the program expressed afterwards that they did not feel so alone in experiencing their chronic condition, they learned from other members in their group, began to look at their situation differently and felt empowered by accomplishing new behaviors,” Vicari said.

Additionally, there were approximately 200 sessions of the Health EASE Move Today non-aerobic exercise program in 2012.

“All of these supports such as access, community support, home support and nutrition support are designed to improve the quality of life for older adults at all stages of aging from the newly arrived senior who benefits from Medicare counseling, educational programs, health screenings to the older frailer individual who receives a home delivered meal or home health aide visit,” Vicari said. “The guiding principle is to keep people in their own homes in their own communities for as long as possible.” TLS.

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