Senior report from Raleigh

Published 10:36 am Wednesday, August 31, 2011

At July’s assembly in the N.C. capital, the Senior Tar Heel Legislature (STHL) was awaiting passage of the budget for the new fiscal year. Like other agencies and programs that receive operating funds at the beck and call of the General Assembly, STHL was eagerly awaiting the word on just how budget cuts would affect senior programs.
As things turned out, only slight adjustments in allocated funds were noticed with most programs held intact. Much interest was in the expansion of Project CARE.
Among other areas covered in the project were the adult day care centers. It was thought the General Assembly would remove more funding from this program, however, only a slight cut in the funds for next year passed.
One of the main benefits of Project CARE provides a respite for caregivers of elder and/or disabled relatives. With future funding, these day care centers can provide a few hours of relief to a home-care provider, by assuring them excellent care will be provided to anyone brought to the center.
One of the most popular senior programs is found in the senior centers, which received the same funding for the new fiscal year. Out of our state’s 100 counties, some 97 have a senior citizen’s center.
According to the new census, Polk County has some 6,000 citizens over the age of 60, with many active in programs at its new center. Our country’s population of citizens over age 60 is expected to reach 7,700 during the next 15 years.
Statewide, during this same period, 74 counties will have more citizens age 60 and older than citizens age one to 17. Presently, 32 counties have more residents age one to 17 years old. North Carolina is rapidly becoming a haven for retirees, which is the basis for long-term projection. With this increase, there will be more demands on adult service programs as indicated by this year’s General Assembly effort to not decrease funding for the care of our aging population.
The director of the N.C. Division of Aging addressed the Senior Tar Heel assembly on problems facing our seniors. He mentioned the ever-growing abuse and exploitation of seniors and cited a recent release study showing that one in nine seniors were in this category within the last 12 months.
He encourages more reporting of “scams” and physical abuse to local law enforcement agencies. The Alamance County Department of Social Services (DSS) reported some 263 cases of this type of abuse during 2010, compared to 164 during the same period the year before. This trend is being mirrored across the state.
There were some 115 delegates and alternates representing 91 counties in attendance at the second senior assembly of 2011. One purpose of the assembly is to bring to the attention of the state’s General Assembly needs of our aging population. Several state officials addressed the audience and pledged their continuing efforts to see that our state government planned for the aging of North Carolina’s population now, rather than entering a waiting game.
– article submitted by John L. Johnson

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