With more than 160,000 seniors calling Ocean County home, the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders is making certain programs and services are in place to help the elderly maintain their independence in their own homes.
“It so important that our seniors have access to quality programs and services that help meet their needs,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as Chairman of Senior Services. “Our programs allow our aging population to maintain their quality of life with independence.
“Whether someone is a newly arrived senior who can benefit from Medicare counseling, educational and health screening programs, or is an older, frailer individual who receives a home delivered meal or home health aide visit, we assist by providing these services,” Vicari said.
The Board of Chosen Freeholders is scheduled to approve 35 competitive contracts to a host of local aging network service providers in the amount of $2.6 million at its Jan. 18 public meeting. The services were discussed during the Jan. 11 preboard.
“We contract with community partners throughout Ocean County to make sure all of our seniors who need services have access to the best programs possible,” Vicari said. “We work with Manchester Township Outreach, Toms River Senior Center, Long Beach Island Community Center, Lakewood Community Services Inc., Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey and a host of other agencies in meeting the growing needs of our senior population.”
Vicari noted the freeholders awarded contracts to Community Services Inc. for the senior nutrition program in December providing the funds for thousands of meals for seniors including home delivered and those served at nutrition sites throughout the year. The Kosher Home delivered meals contract is expected to be approved during the Board’s Jan. 18 meeting.
“These meals are often a lifeline for the homebound older adult bringing not only nutritional value but also social contact and sometimes even emergency intervention for the most frail,” Vicari said. “We expect to provide about 234,000 home delivered meals in 2017 and an additional 52,000 will be served at our 7 congregate meal sites.”
In 2017, the Office of Senior Services will oversee a total of 43 Area Plan Contracts with 20 governmental and non-profit agencies in Ocean County totaling more than $5.4 million.
“In addition to meals, other funded areas include transportation, caregiver services, care management, options counseling, legal services and a host of others,” Vicari said. “As we age our needs change. We meet those needs as best we can.”
More than 506,000 units of service are expected to be provided to clients in 2017 through these contracts.
“We also focus on getting the word out to our seniors about the programs and services available to them,” Vicari said.
In 2016, the Office of Senior Services made 84 presentations to the public. Senior Services staff responded to a total of 7,834 callers and walk-in clients and more than 27,000 visitors to the senior services website.
Outreach and care management sites plan to provide 19,500 older adults and caregivers with 122,600 units of information and assistance/assessments in 2017.
“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 State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) contacts by our 40 Ocean County based counselors.”
Vicari noted that with all the areas of assistance including access, community support, home support, caregiver support and nutrition support, the Office of Senior Services meets and exceeds thenetwork mission to keep people in their own homes with supports in their own communities for as long as possible.
“People want to retire in Ocean County because of the amenities that are provided. We have the best parks, the best libraries and a host of activities to satisfy all ages,” Vicari said. “Our senior programs are second to none and always receive high marks by the state of New Jersey.
“It’s this quality and professionalism that attracts people to Ocean County,” Vicari said. “The services and programs we provide to our seniors are key to a good quality of life.”
For additional information on the programs and services of the Ocean County Office of Senior Services contact the office at 732-929-2091 or access its website at www.co.ocean.nj.us