Panel on aging asks for support

More local money sought to improve a number of services

February 21, 2002|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The Commission on Aging, which is dealing with a nearly 30 percent increase in the number of Carroll senior citizens in the past decade, is asking the county for improvements in transportation and recreation and for more money for home meal delivery and prescription medicines.

In a meeting with county commissioners yesterday, members of the agency discussed the needs of that growing population, at 21,770, and called for programs to keep seniors healthy and active.

Those included the Medicaid Waiver for Older Adults, a project that helps elderly residents with limited incomes receive medical services in their homes instead of nursing homes. Thirty-six county residents are enrolled in the program, and 73 applications are under consideration.

Members also made a pitch for a new senior center in North Carroll, which has the smallest of the county's five centers. County commissioners have proposed expanding the space in the basement of the North Carroll library branch, but commission members said they would prefer a new, larger and more accessible building.

"Don't expand. We need a new center," said John Korman, commission member. "An addition will only take up parking, and we don't have enough of that now."

Faced with possible cuts from the state, the commission asked the county to raise funding for meal delivery and prescription programs.

"The state is calling for significant cuts and there will be increases in co-payments, which are already not accessible to many," said Ellen Dix, commission member. "There could be a 50 percent increase in out-of-pocket costs."

Many seniors volunteer as drivers, transporting neighbors to doctors' appointments or hospital visits that are often outside the county. They are concerned with insurance for those trips.

Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge said she would see if the county could extend liability insurance, which covers the county's recreation volunteers.

"Drivers are liable for any accidents simply for the act of being good Samaritans," said Clyde Kreitzer, commission member. "They should be protected."

The commission also asked officials to review its guardianship program of 30 elderly and disabled people who have no immediate family. Since the county began participating in the state program 12 years ago - with eight senior citizens - funding has not increased.

"We are asking that the county supplement guardianship in some way, possible in salary and fringe benefits for the administrator, " said Jim Jacobs, commission member.

Jacobs estimated that it would take about $14,000 to put the program back on track.

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