A golden time to be a senior in Carroll

Services: A wealth of programs and facilities nourishes the minds and bodies of a growing elderly population.

April 24, 2005|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,SUN STAFF

With America's baby boomers starting to reach their golden years, senior population-related industries are flourishing, along with programs from the Bureau of Aging at the federal, state and local level to assist them with nearly every aspect of their life, from housing and medical care to abuse prevention and transportation.

"Baby boomers have been referred to as a tsunami - this great swelling up - and we're changing the way we're looking at services for that group of individuals," said Jan Flora, Carroll County Bureau of Aging chief. "We're looking at more client choice, offering programs decided on by what the client wants, and empowerment - giving them information so they can make their own decisions."

From 1990 to 2000, the senior population [those age 60 and older] in the county jumped by 27.5 percent, from 17,078 to 21,770, Flora said. Seniors made up about 14 percent of the county's 153,434 residents in 2000.

The Bureau of Aging's services to seniors include: Senior Information and Assistance; elder abuse prevention and awareness; guardianship; senior care; transportation; Medicare and Medicaid abuse prevention; income tax and tax abatement help; meals; nutrition education; in-home care registry; long-term care ombudsman program; legal aid; health screenings; Seniors Keep in Touch; developmental disability program; medical, pharmacy, employment, energy and housing assistance; caregivers support; and support groups.

The bureau also operates five senior centers that offer social, recreational, educational, health and fitness, nutrition and informational activities. But with the senior population growing so rapidly, even the 9-year-old Westminster Senior Center is already bulging at its seams.

"One thing that is very popular is the exercise room - we converted an aerobics room to the exercise equipment room," Flora said. "We need classroom space, we need a larger billiards room for both men and women, and we could benefit from more office space."

The bureau has property on which to build a new 24,000- square-foot South Carroll senior center in Eldersburg. In the meantime, the existing center on Bartholow Road has been renovated recently. An outdoor patio at the Mount Airy center may be enclosed to provide more space there.

The Taneytown center, in a converted factory, has room to expand, and the North Carroll center is being expanded until a new facility can be built in 2011, Flora said.

All residents age 60 and older are welcome to the center nearest them, but they also can attend activities of interest at other centers. There is no membership fee, and the younger spouse of a 60-year-old may attend. All individuals are required to fill out a form so the bureau can provide information to the federal and state offices on the number of people it serves.

"The senior centers are not just for people with limited incomes," Flora said. "It's not rocking on the front porch, and they're not for everyone, but what I'd hope is people are aware of the Bureau of Aging so they know where they can go when they need help, whether for older adult parents or themselves later."

The bureau is part of a nationwide network of programs established by the Older Americans Act that extends to state and local jurisdictions. Flora's office helps families across the country with housing and other elder assistance for relatives who may live in other states, via the network.

"We have historically served people 60 and older, but part of our goal now is to provide knowledge and information to people under 60 so they can assist their older parents and friends, and as we better inform them, they'll be better prepared for their elder years," Flora said.

One way to disseminate information is through the bureau's first Seniors on the Go Expo, to be held from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Carroll County Agriculture Center.

"We'll have a lot of information for ages 60 and older, but we want everybody to come," Flora said. "We'll have entertainment, exhibitors, screenings and food."

The bureau's Web site (www.ccgov.carr.org/aging/index.html) offers details about programs, as well as a list of continuing-care retirement communities, apartment and single-family home retirement communities, assisted living facilities, adult day care programs and skilled nursing homes.

The bureau's offices are at Westminster Senior Center. The five centers are:

Westminster Senior Activities Center: 125 Stoner Ave., Westminster 21157; 410-848-4049, 410-876-3363 or 410-875-3342. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. Paul Garver is manager.

South Carroll Senior Activities Center: 5745 Bartholow Road, Eldersburg 21784; 410-549-1357. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Karen Larrimore is manager.

Mount Airy Senior Activities Center: 703 Ridge Ave., Mount Airy 21771; 410-795-1017, 301-829-2407. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Olivia Schrodetzki is manager.

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