In Chautauqua County, a program that would help senior citizens maintain independence and stay in their own homes, currently has a long waiting list. Over 200 Chautauqua County seniors cannot be accommodated at this time through the in-home services program designed to supplement informal care provided by clients' families. Services for seniors include housekeeping, personal care, and respite care management.
This was one item the Chautauqua County League of Women Voters' heard from Dale Desmond at their recent luncheon meeting. The topic was "Options for care for senior citizens."
Although MaryAnn Spanos, the director of Chautauqua County Office for the Aging was slated to speak, she was called to Albany. In her place, Desmond, an employee of the agency for the last 19 years and currently coordinator for the agency, substituted for her boss. She explained the mission of the Office for the Aging is to provide information and services to seniors and their families to promote independence, optimal health and wellness in a safe and secure environment. She brought a Senior Services Handbook which listed the many services provided by the Office for the Aging as well as a listing of other agencies that provide services. The handbook is also available at the agency's website: chautauqua.ny.us/departments/ofa
OBSERVER Photo by
Diane R. Chodan
Dale Desmond, coordinator of aging with the Chau-tauqua County Office for the Aging, spoke to the League of Women Voters concerning services provided by that agency.
According to Desmond, Spanos "is hoping that things get better" and more seniors can take advantage of the in-home services program. Desmond said, "The Office for the Aging encourages its clients to contact their legislators. These are the people in charge."
A new initiative is a program to follow up on seniors released from the hospital. The follow-up would involve looking at the list of medications and making home visits. The hope is this will prevent a return to the hospital. This program will be implemented on a limited basis.
On a related topic, Spanos asked Desmond to assure those attending the presentation that the Office for the Aging will protect the rights of the residents of the county home. Saying that any sale of the facility would be a "business decision," she said the facility would not close even if sold.
Desmond explained that an Ad Hoc committee chaired by John Runkle is looking into the situation.
"The Office for the Aging will be there no matter how this plays out," Desmond said.
If a senior cannot stay at home, the options for senior housing are independent senior housing, assisted living, and nursing home. The Office for the Aging will assist a senior with applications for the various types of housing. She advised the family of the senior to do some preliminary calling to narrow down the choices.
Desmond cautioned, "This is not one-stop shopping." Some senior independent facilities have openings; some have waiting lists of six months to a year. In the case of assisted living, three will accept medicaid, while the others are private pay. Of course nursing home care is the most costly option.
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