Chautauqua County Office for the Aging
Article Contributed by
Dr. Mary Ann Spanos
It’s time to start planning for the next 4 years. Like other departments who receive state and federal funding, Office for the Aging must develop and submit a plan to describe what programs and services we will be providing in the community. In-home services, insurance counseling, health & wellness programs, nutrition services, transportation, caregiver services and employment are just some of the things OFA provides to people so they can age well and independently at home for as long as possible. We also are charged with advocating for older adults on subjects like fraud and abuse, creating age-friendly communities, housing and homelessness, ageism, and age discrimination. However, we need to know what is most important to you and what areas you want to us to focus our efforts and funding on over the next 4 years.
On September 4 & 5th, OFA will be holding its annual public hearing in Jamestown and Dunkirk in conjunction with an event called “Stopping Senior Fraud and Abuse Starts with You!” This event will feature experts from the Sheriff’s department, DA office, Statewide Senior Action, Center for Elder Law and Justice, and Medicare Rights to talk about protecting yourself and your income. In this digital age there are so many ways that seniors can be scammed, swindled, or financially exploited. Don’t let this happen to you or your loved ones. Learn about steps you can take to prevent from becoming a victim. Insurance and healthcare are one of the biggest costs for people of all ages. Knowing your rights under Medicare is critical to prevent overpayment or paying out-of-pocket for things that should be covered by insurance. These topics and more will be discussed with our panel of experts. Office for the Aging will host the event and be available before and after the event for you to comment in-person or in-writing about our 4 year plan.
The annual OFA public hearing is just one way to give your input on what OFA does. At the senior picnic in July, we distributed a paper survey to find out about the needs of older adults and caregivers in our community. What will help you to age gracefully with maximum health and independence? Do you need transportation, housing, or handy man services? Do you need help managing a chronic illness or to get better nutrition? Do you feel alone or isolated and want to get more involved? Are you caring for a spouse or parent and need a break? These are just some of the needs that many older adults identify as necessary to age well and maintain their independence. Copies of our 2019 Needs Assessment Survey are available by calling NY Connects helpline at 753-4582, 363-4582, or 661-7582. In addition, we will be making an electronic version available to tech savvy seniors and community partners in September.
Chautauqua County Office for the Aging is over 45 years old. In the beginning, we only provided nutrition services and home delivered meals which later became the “Meals on Wheels” program. While nutrition services are still very important to keeping older people healthy, OFA has added or tweaked many services over the years to meet the changing needs of our population. The congregate meal program added a Restaurant Dining component to give seniors more variety in our meal programs. We added in-home services including personal care and chore assistance, medical transportation, and senior safety devices for those frail seniors who want to be home rather than in a facility. A variety of services were added under Caregiver Support/Respite for those caring for someone with a chronic illness or Alzheimer’s/dementia. When Medicare expanded to Medicare Advantage, older adults needed help to navigate all the options under Medicare. So we added the health insurance counseling program to give unbiased information and assistance.
Ensuring that Office for the Aging is providing the right programs and services can only happen with your help. We hope you will join us on September 4 in Jamestown & 5th in Dunkirk for our OFA annual public hearing. Locations will be announced shortly. Contact NY Connects for a copy of 2019 the needs assessment survey. You can also call or write us at Chautauqua County Office for the Aging, 7 North Erie Street Mayville NY 14757, (716) 753-4471, 363-4471, or 661-7471, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Updates on these and other events can be found on our Chautauqua County Office for the Aging Facebook page. Remember we are here to help all seniors in Chautauqua County live long, healthy, and independent lives.