Initiative will focus on elderly at home

Foundation designates $450,000 for program to improve their health

October 28, 1999|By Alice Lukens | Alice Lukens,SUN STAFF

Officials at Howard County's largest foundation announced yesterday a major initiative to improve the health of elderly county residents who live at home.

Richard M. Krieg, president and chief executive officer of Horizon Foundation, said the board of directors has designated about $450,000 for a project called Aging in Place, which will focus on the health needs of county senior citizens, especially those with low income.

"The simple fact is that in this county, more older adults will choose to live at home and may face a myriad of problems," Krieg said.

He said some senior citizens might battle depression, and others might need basic safety features installed in their homes to prevent accidents.

Krieg and Howard County Executive James N. Robey announced the one-year Aging in Place grant yesterday morning at Taylor Manor Hospital in Ellicott City before the Coalition of Geriatric Services.

"Our county is approaching a crossroads where we will begin to see a drastic increase in our senior population," Robey said.

Howard has the fastest growing over-60 population among Maryland jurisdictions, according to the county's Department of Citizen Services.

The Horizon Foundation was established last year through a merger of Johns Hopkins Medicine and Howard County General Hospital. The foundation received more than $60 million to promote health and wellness in Howard County.

Horizon officials worked with four agencies to come up with the initiative: the county Office on Aging, and Family and Children's Services, Our House Youth Home, and the Developmental Services Group, all private agencies.

Horizon officials project that the initiative will directly serve 250 older adults and indirectly serve more than 600.

The Office on Aging, the lead agency, will receive most of the money -- $250,000. Some will go toward hiring a retrofit consultant, an occupational therapist and a home modification coordinator. Some money will be used to conduct countywide surveys of senior citizens to determine future needs.

The Developmental Services Group, which operates mental and physical rehabilitation programs for the disabled, will receive $81,500.

Family and Children's Services will receive $50,000 to provide in-home care services for the elderly and respite for care-givers.

Our House, an Ellicott City residential center for at-risk boys that teaches building trades, will receive $48,000.

Krieg said the foundation will release its initial funding about the beginning of December.

In a separate announcement, Krieg said the foundation will award the Coalition of Geriatric Services $80,000 over two years. The group, run by volunteers, aims to foster communication and cooperation among the providers of geriatric services. Krieg said the money will help the group to develop a Web site, a newsletter and a marketing plan and to hire a part-time executive director.

"The fact that you're a coalition that has done so much with so little puts you on our radar screen," Krieg told coalition members.

Federal Community Development Block Grant funds to refurbish the homes of older adults will be pooled with foundation money to remodel and repair homes for the elderly. The county will allocate about $60,000 of that money and will contribute $22,600 toward administrative services.

Last week, the foundation announced a $264,000 grant to a free clinic operated by the Health Alliance for Patients in Need and another $200,000 to fund 13 community health initiatives proposed by nonprofit organizations.

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