Older Americans contribute much to community
By Jerry Shelby
Special to the Salisbury Post
May is Older Americans Month and is 52 years old. We recognize older Americans for their contributions and provide them with information to help them stay healthy and active.
Rowan County Public Library joined communities nationwide in celebrating the occasion with a special exhibit throughout the month of May. This year’s Older Americans Month theme is “Get into the ACT,” encouraging older Americans to stay engaged, active and involved in their own lives and in their communities.
Participating in this library exhibit are three Rowan county organizations:
• Rufty-Holmes Senior Center in Salisbury serves as a community focal point for aging resources. The center promotes increased involvement of older adults in volunteerism and civic engagement, a healthier and more active older adult citizenry, provides information and referral programs, and improves the physical and mental health of older Rowan County residents.
• AARP Salisbury-Rowan Chapter is a non-profit civic/service organization for people age 50 and older, who desire to become involved in local volunteer activities, bring about positive change and work toward making our community a better place to live. The chapter meetings promote fellowship and social interaction, provide a forum for members to discuss local, state and national issues, and presents programs that inform and educate members about healthcare, nutrition, economic security, consumer protection, safety concerns, and more. Rowan County residents who are 50 years and older are encouraged to join the chapter. The chapter meets the first Thursday of the month at 1 p.m. at the Rufty-Holmes Senior Center.
• Rowan County Council on Aging’s key objectives are to establish a local network of advocates that can address or respond to local, state and national issues affecting older adults; develop programs and methods for educating local older adults about emerging issues; recruit and nominate qualified older adults for seats on local, regional, and state committees, boards and commissions to represent older adult needs; and recognize those individuals and groups in the community who contribute to a “senior friendly community.” The chapter meets the fourth Thursday at 1p.m. at the Rufty-Holmes Senior Center.
When Older Americans Month was first established, there were only 17 million living Americans age 65 and older. Today, those over age 65 number about 40 million, with 10,000 turning 65 each day. Over the past decade, the number of Rowan County citizens age 65+ has increased by 31.4 percent.
Americans can volunteer with programs that improve life for seniors, including access to health services, food and nutrition services, financial and housing counseling, social activities and community engagement. The organizations that are participating in the Older Americans Month exhibit at the library are outstanding examples of volunteer groups you can join to address the needs of older Americans, and you can do so all year long.
For more information about Rufty-Holmes Senior Center, AARP Salisbury-Rowan Chapter and Rowan County Council on Aging, call 704-216-7714.
Also this year is the 80th anniversary of Social Security and the importance the program is to preventing poverty; the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid that provide medical insurance for the retired, disabled, and the disadvantaged; and the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act.
Essential services of theOlder Americans Act include advisory councils and services, supporting senior centers, adult day care, home services, information and assistance, nutrition assistance with congregate meal sites and home delivered meals, transportation assistance, senior employment programs, disease prevention and health promotion, caregiver support program, and elder abuse and exploitation prevention.
Two important North Carolina legislative programs that affect older Americans suffered $1 million cuts: funding for senior centers and the Home and Community Care Block Grant.
Key services for the block grant are non-Medicaid funded services such as home delivered meals, in-home aides, adult day health care, transportation assistance and respite care for family caregivers. The block grant helps those with the greatest need. Of those served in 2014, 50 percent were living alone, 62 percent were 75 or older, the average age was 83, 45 percent reported income below the poverty level and 71 percent were female.
When this month’s recognition is over, we cannot forget about the contributions of older adults have made during their lifetime. Renewing the Older Americans Act, restoring funding for senior centers and the Home and Community Care Block Grant need to happen.
I and others volunteer at several organizations in the Salisbury area that meet at the senior center, and we personally help the people that need the services in the Older Americans Act. We are doing our part helping others. We also know other people that are doing their part. We need the U.S. Congress to approve the Older Americans Act.
The organizations we volunteer at request and encourage the Congress to vote to help the needy by approving the Older Americans Act, and the funding for the Home and Community Care Block Grant and for senior centers.
Last month during National Volunteer Week, I attended meetings where 24 agencies shared what their agencies were doing. Most of the agencies and organizations were providing a service that was included in the Older Americans Act and the Home and Community Care Block Grant. Many provide the service at the senior center.
The senior center is the central location to meet and get help, get information and education, health and wellness information, economic well-being, support seniors efforts to remain independent and joyful in their communities, and many other services.
I asked what would happen to their organization if we didn’t have one place to go to get help. Their reply was, “the needy wouldn’t get help because they wouldn’t know all the different places they would have to go.”
You can help also by contacting your senators and representatives and ask them to renew and approve the Older American Act, and fund the Home and Community Care Block Grant and senior centers.
The contact information is:
Sen. Richard Burr
217 Russell Senate Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20510
www.burr.senate.gov To send an email, go to the website.
Sen. Thom Tillis
G55 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20510
www.tillis.senate.gov To send an email, go to the website.
US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Rep. Virginia Foxx, District 5
2350 Rayburn HOB, Washington, DC 20515
http://foxx.house.gov/contact/ To send an email, go to the website.
Rep. Richard Hudson, District 8
429 Cannon HOB, Washington, DC 20515
http://hudson.house.gov/contact/ To send an email, go to the website.
Rep. Alma Adams, District 12
222 Cannon HOB, Washington, DC 20515
http://adams.house.gov To send an email, go to the website.
Sen. Andrew C. Brock
300 N. Salisbury St., Room 521
Raleigh, NC 27603-5925
Sen. Tom McInnis
16 W. Jones St., Room 2106
Raleigh, NC 27601-2808
Rep. Carl Ford
300 N. Salisbury St., Room 607
Raleigh, NC 27603-5925
Rep. Harry Warren
300 N. Salisbury St., Room 611
Raleigh, NC 27603-5925
Jerry Shelby is a resident of Salisbury.