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May is older Americans month

Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2015

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Pittsboro, NC - Calling upon all of Chatham to recognize and appreciate the many contributions and sacrifices of our older citizens, the Chatham County Commissioners have proclaimed May 2015 as Older Americans Month. Each May since 1963, when President John F. Kennedy proclaimed the first Older Americans Month, our nation, state and local communities have used this occasion to pay special tribute to seniors.

As Dennis W. Streets, director of the Chatham County Council on Aging, remarked, "This is a special year for the nation's so-called Aging Network. It is 50th anniversary of the federal Older Americans Act, which was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965-the same year as the creation of Medicare and Medicaid." When, in 2013, Medicare and Medicaid spending totaled more than $1.3 trillion, the Older Americans Act relied on about $1.4 billion nationwide to support an array of services through organizations like the Council on Aging. Streets noted, "While our funding pales dramatically to that of health care, our success in working for seniors and their families compares well. I don't think the Older Americans Act could have more ambitious objectives for seniors as they address almost every aspect of a senior's quality of life. Our greatest emphases are on helping people stay in their homes and communities, supporting family caregiving, and promoting the best possible physical and mental health in a variety of ways."

"Get into the Act" is the theme of the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act. This theme highlights how older adults are increasingly taking charge of their health, staying engaged in the community, and making a difference in the lives of others. The theme also signifies an ongoing commitment to the Older Americans Act as a significant public policy, and it symbolizes how Council on Aging staff and volunteers approach every day. Streets notes, " In the course of a day, staff and volunteers may assist in helping homebound seniors with a meal or personal care, provide transportation to our senior centers for lunch and activities, get to the grocery store or a medical appointment, or offer classes to prevent falls and manage such conditions as arthritis and diabetes. We also assist persons with questions about Medicare, Medicaid and long-term care insurance, help seniors stay alert to consumer fraud and scams, reassure the long-distance family caregiver seeking community resources, loan for free a donated hospital bed or wheelchair to someone needing such equipment, arrange for installation of a ramp or grab bar, and help those who cannot pay their utility bills. If that's not enough, we provide a few hours of relief to the family caregiver of someone with Alzheimer's disease or other dementia, offer fitness and wellness facilities, programs and instruction, arrange hikes and trips to local points of interests, boost positive mental health through socialization and counseling, and respond otherwise to assist seniors and their families. Every day is a full day."

Commissioner Chairman James Crawford knows firsthand the work of the Council on Aging as he has served a volunteer for its Minor Home Repair program. Commissioner Crawford shared, "The Commissioners are proud of the efforts of our Council on Aging and are committed to helping assure that Chatham continues to be viewed as an aging-friendly community." In celebration of Older Americans Month, the Chatham County Council on Aging has a wide range of planned activities. These include completion of the Senior Games and Silver Arts competition. Volunteer Appreciation Dinners planned for eastern and western Chatham, and Celebrate Senior Day on May 19th. In addition, the Council on Aging is joining with the Chatham County Department of Social Services, the Chatham County Sheriff's Office, Chatham Community Library, and the Chatham Advocacy for Seniors Team to offer a public seminar on Consumer Fraud, Scams and Identity Theft. This seminar is scheduled for Thursday, May 21, from 6-7 pm at the Chatham Community Library in Pittsboro. Chatham resident David Kirkman, special deputy attorney general in the North Carolina Department of Justice, will share his knowledge and experience on this subject.

For further information about these activities and the work of the Council on Aging, contact the Eastern Chatham Senior Center at 919-542-4512 or the Western Chatham Senior Center at 919-742-3975, or visit the website at www.chathamcoa.org.

 
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