Happy Older Americans Month

Happy Older Americans Month and Happy Birthday Chautauqua County Office for the Aging! This month we have a lot to celebrate. For 55 years, Older Americans Month (OAM) has been observed to recognize older Americans and their contributions to our communities. Led by the federal Administration on Aging (AoA), every May offers opportunity to hear from, support, and celebrate our nation’s elders. This year’s OAM theme, “Engage at Every Age,” emphasizes the importance of being active and involved, no matter where or when you are in life. You are never too old (or too young) to participate in activities that can enrich your physical, mental, and emotion well-being.

It is becoming more apparent that remaining socially engaged can improve the quality of life for older adults. Chautauqua County Office for the Aging will use Older Americans Month 2018 and our events through the summer to focus on how older adults in our area are engaging with friends and family, and through various community activities. We encourage people of all ages to get involved. In addition AoA which is under the Administration for Community Living has issued a Selfie Challenge! They want to see how older people in every community across the country are engaging. If you want to be part of this challenge, simply take a selfie or picture of you and your friends engaged in some activity this month and tweet it with the hashtag #OAM18. Let’s show them how older adults help others and have fun in Chautauqua County!

Did you know that Chautauqua County OFA is 45 years old? Chautauqua County legislature proposed local law 5-1973, which was adopted on June 27, 1973, establishing the Chautauqua County Office for the Aging. While much has changed in the last 45 years, many of the programs and service that were established those first years are still in existence today.

In 1974, the first program established was nutrition services for the elderly beginning with the opening of our first congregate dining site at the Hotel Jamestown. Later that year we started the first home delivered meal program which later morphed into Meals on Wheels. Transportation services were also established that first year and dispatched from an office at SUNY Fredonia. Senior employment joined in 1975, Energy assistance (HEAP) in 1977, and legal services in 1978. In the early 1980s in-home care services were established by both OFA under the Community Services for the Elderly program and CASA (who now handles primarily Medicaid clients). These programs expanded considerably throughout that decade adding the EISEP (expanded in-home services for the elderly program) as well as home adaptation/repair services, Personal Emergency Response, and Family Support Services which is now known as Caregiver Support.

In 1983, Chautauqua Adult Day Care Inc. was established and from the first they have been wonderful partners working with the Office for the Aging to serve seniors and their caregivers. We congratulate Executive Director, Frank Bercik, and Associate Director, Karen Lucks, and all their staff on 35 years of excellent service to the people of our community and wish them well at their anniversary celebration which was held on May 11 at the Taft Center in Jamestown.

In my tenure at OFA, I have seen the role of Office for the Aging expand under the NY Connects initiative to be the place for people of all ages to turn for advice and options on long-term care needs. This includes caregivers and people under 60 who are disabled as well as parents of children with special care needs. We have greatly expanded our Medicare insurance counseling program and are helping seniors all year long navigate and resolve insurance coverage issues as well as save lots of money. We have greatly expanded our health, exercise, and training classes to make sure that seniors are strong and that they have the tools to manage their financial, caregiving and other life challenges. No matter your situation or social/ economic status there is help for you at Office for the Aging. We hope you will honor us by turning to Office for the Aging first when you have a problem or issue you are trying to solve.

On Aug. 10, Office for the Aging will be celebrating our 45th Birthday Party in conjunction with our annual senior picnic at Midway Park. We hope you will join us for the fun and festivities and which will include some special items as part of our birthday celebration. And remember to call our NY Connects helpline for more information about community services and supports or anything mentioned in this article at 753-4582, 363-4582, or 661-7582.