A nutritious meal, a knowledgeable staff and proven programs are at the center of the services provided to older adults living in Ocean County. “Our older adult residents have come to rely on these programs and services, and they will continue into the new year,” said Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as chairman of Senior Services. “All of this helps our seniors enjoy their retirement years with independence and a guaranteed good quality of life. This is a long-standing commitment of the Board of Freeholders.”
Continuing its ongoing commitment to the seniors in Ocean County, the Board of Freeholders is scheduled to award five contracts totaling almost $2.5 million to continue the nutrition program into 2010 and to also provide social services to the elderly.
Four contracts are expected to be awarded to Community Services Inc. of Ocean County to provide home-delivered (daily and weekend/holiday) meals, and congregate meals to older county residents. The four contracts total more than $2 million, according to a press release from the county.
“We provide services that are essential to the quality of life for many of our seniors; providing a nutritious meal and outreach services makes a tremendous difference in the lives of so many of them,” Vicari said.
“Our home-delivered meals program not only provides nutritional support to older adults who may be isolated, frail or disabled, but it also provides that important personal contact on a daily basis.
“For some, this is the limited contact they have with what goes on beyond their home,” Vicari said. “We bring the Ocean County community to them.”
Under the contracts, Community Services Inc. expects to serve more than 80,000 meals to seniors at their 10 nutrition sites throughout the county in 2010, according to Jane Maloney, director of the Ocean County Office of Senior Services.
Another 224,000 meals will be delivered to seniors who are too ill to cook for themselves and have no one to cook for them, through Community Services’ Home Delivered Meals program. The average age for home-delivered meals participants is 84.
Vicari said he was pleased that the federal government responded to Ocean County’s ongoing advocacy efforts for essential nutrition services and in 2009 provided funding to help expand home-delivered routes, allowing the county to add one in Berkeley Township, another in Manchester and the relocation of the Jackson Township Congregate Nutrition program to the Jackson senior center.
The congregate meal program has an older, frailer population attending, and a significant number require transportation back and forth to the nutrition site and to access activities of daily living, according to the press release.
The average age for a congregate participant is 83. Nutrition education/counseling is a component of both congregate and home-delivered meals, and plans are under way to establish the evidence-based Chronic Disease Self-Management program in the congregate program.
“We will do all that we can to continue to better the lives of our seniors, especially the most frail,” Vicari said.
He said the freeholders will continue to advocate for the necessary Older Americans Act funding to maintain these programs.
“In addition, we have awarded a contract to Community Services Inc. to provide social support services such as outreach, benefit screenings, telephone reassurance, and transportation to seniors,” Vicari said.
Each year, the Board of Freeholders awards more than $5 million for contractual senior programs ranging from health screenings to transportation and caregiver support and education, according to the press release.
The majority of the 2010 contracts will be awarded in January. The money comes from a combination of federal, state and county sources.
Meanwhile, as the Office of Senior Services plans for the new year, it is continuing to bring assistance to seniors now.
Through Nov. 30, 2009, more than 511,000 units of service were provided to 35,153 individuals. Of those served, 43 percent were frail and disabled and 55 percent were vulnerable and or socially isolated.
Also, 2,919 were caregivers and 1,514 of these caregivers were older than 60. In addition, some were also caring for their children, many were also working, and some reported to be in poor health.
“We look at the entire picture when we deliver services,” Maloney said. “It is not just the aging individual, but it is also the caregiver that we respond to.”
Maloney noted that the top three issues addressed by Senior Services staff in November were prescription program assistance, Medicare/health insurance and utility assistance.
“The emphasis on prescriptions is directly related to the Medicare Part D open enrollment period,” Maloney said. “The Office of Senior Services has been fully engaged in helping Medicare enrollees in gaining sound information regarding their Part D plan.”
For more information, call Senior Services at 732-929-2091, 800-668-4899, or the Medicare hotline that is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day, at 1-800- MEDICARE.
“We make every effort to provide our seniors with the best services possible,” Vicari said. “Whether it be a meal or help with Medicare, or just an ear to listen to a concern, our office of Senior Services helps to make a difference every day.” Tritown.