Dr. Mary Ann Spanos
Director of Office for Aging Services
Every four years, the Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services (OFAS) must submit a plan to NYS Office for Aging (NYSOFA). This 4-Year plan must outline on how we will use the funding we receive to best meet the needs of Older Adults and Caregivers in Chautauqua County. It will include goals like “allow older adults to age in place in the community” and it must demonstrate how the programs and services we provide meet those goals and the needs for most older adults. We cannot come up with this plan on our own. If we did, it would not reflect the true needs of our community. So, over the next several months, OFAS will be providing opportunities for older adults to share their thoughts on aging in Chautauqua County. What services do you need that will help you age successfully at home? What do you think you will need over the next 5-10 years? Maybe you have taken care of someone. A father, mother, friend or relative that was aging. What was the most challenging part of this experience? We hope you will find a way to let us know what you think so we can try to cultivate the programs and services that will do the most good with the 5 million in funding available.
It is pretty universal that most older people if given a choice whether to stay at home or go to a nursing home, will pick staying at home. Even though that is most people’s desire, OFAS does not have enough money or the capacity to provide 24 hour care at home, so facility care will be needed for some people. That being said for most people a small amount help can delay or avoid facility care altogether. What does that mean for you? Is that a home-delivered meal through our Dining-In program or an aide through a local agency to help with housekeeping, errands, or a bath? Is it someone to drive you to medical appointments or to take mom to her appointments so you can stay at work? Is it training on how to be a caregiver or to use a computer technology to stay connected, do your banking, or do virtual visits with your doctor? Are you struggling financially and need counseling about health insurance, the right prescription program, or assistance to help pay for food and utilities? Some of the beauty of the Older American Act is that we have the ability to customize some of the programs and services to meet specific needs that are unique to Chautauqua County.
Over the summer and into the fall, OFAS plans to have a series of public meetings at housing units, senior clubs, churches or anywhere older adults gather. These meetings will provide an overview of the OFAS programs and services and allow you to ask questions. We also want to give you the chance to tell us what you think about the services we currently provide and what we should add or eliminate from our programs. We want to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly. If we don’t know what you think it will be really hard to come up with a plan for services that reflects what is most needed. The world is constantly changing and the older adults of today need different things than my grandmother did, so OFAS must continually adjust and modify our services to be relevant to older adults and caregivers as well as remain a trusted source of information on all things aging!
We already have some meetings set in July at the Silver Tree and the Jamestown Housing Authority Buildings. Please call us if you would like more information on these meetings or to set up a meeting for your group. As always you may call or e-mail our NY Connects Helpline at 716-753-4582, email@example.com or check the meeting announcements on our FaceBook pages. We are the leaders on aging Issues and have all your “Answers on Aging” well in Chautauqua County. Happy Summer!