Group aims to focus on the need of the elderly Various concerns will be stressed to CA by senior advisory panel.

February 05, 1997|By Erin Texeira | Erin Texeira,SUN STAFF

Howard County has the fastest growing elderly population in the state, and Columbia seniors are stepping forward to try to insure that the group's needs are met.

Late last year, 16 seniors formed a new Senior Advisory Council to give the Columbia Association (CA) information on local seniors, strengthen ties between the elderly and the community and "increase public awareness of Columbia's seniors, as a distinct and active population in our midst," according to the group's bylaws.

"With the aging of Columbia's population, we felt the need to have people focus on what needs were not being met," said Maggie Brown, vice president of community relations at CA. "We wanted to help increase the broader awareness of what seems important."

Last May, CA approved the formation of the council which met for the first time in December and will begin meeting on the third Monday of each month starting Feb. 17.

In January, the group formed three sub-committees -- to focus on issues such as volunteerism, housing, transportation and safety -- but has not yet taken any action.

Representatives, who are all volunteers, will regularly report to CA with ideas and recommendations and the council will propose ideas to coincide with the CA budgetary process, Brown said.

Voting members include one representative from each village and seven at-large members. Two council members do not vote: Roy Lyons of Long Reach village is the Columbia Council liaison and Phyllis Medachy from the county Office on Aging is an advisor.

At this point, three villages -- River Hill, Owen Brown and Dorsey's Search -- have yet to appoint representatives, Brown said.

To serve, members must be Columbia residents over 60-years-old.

Howard County's elderly population is expected to increase by more than 250 percent by the year 2020, said Medachy. "This is largely related to the influence of Columbia," she said. "The growth rate is explosive."

Not every senior has the same concerns and needs, she said. Those approaching retirement often focus on financial security, while many who are already retired are concerned with safety, transportation and access to services.

"We can't lump seniors into one big age group," Medachy said.

Pub Date: 2/05/97

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