The following is a guest column from Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz:
The employees of the Erie County Department of Senior Services work daily to promote the well-being of all older adults through coordinated and cost-effective services which enhance their independence, dignity and quality of life. Not only is the Department of Senior Services your first stop for all information related to seniors and their well-being, it also advocates for older adults, provides resources for them and their caregivers and is directly involved in educating and motivating them to live healthier and more active lives.
This month we are celebrating older adults and exploring ways to provide more services in the future. How can we improve services for you? If you are a caregiver, what programs or services are of interest to you? What needs do our older adults have that are not being met, or that could be better addressed? The Department of Senior Services is exploring ways to expand supports, services and programs and urges residents to add their voices to the discussion as we grow into the future.
Did you know that Erie County has 51 congregate dining sites that serve over 250,000 meals annually to over 2,500 registered seniors? All dining sites also offer monthly nutrition education so seniors can practice better nutrition at home, and individual nutrition counseling with registered dietitians is also available. In addition, 30 of these locations also provide the Erie County Club 99 senior fitness program, which has over 1,000 enthusiastic senior participants countywide. Fitness and nutrition are essential to a healthy life and the Senior Services Department is always looking to spread that message even further.
Ongoing educational programs provided free of charge by the Department of Senior Services include Healthy Living Self-Management programs that educate older adults on living with chronic disease, or diabetes. These six-week classes are very popular, as are the free six-week “A Matter of Balance” classes held at area senior centers that educate seniors on better balance and ways to avoid falls. This topic is further addressed in the Department’s annual Falls Prevention Coalition Seminar, which brings together experts in the field of aging to educate seniors on things they can do to lessen the likelihood of falls in the home. If continuing education interests you, you might want to explore the Department’s University express program, which offers free lifelong learning classes spread across a wide variety of topics, or the Aging Mastery class, a 10-week class that helps seniors to take control of aging and lead healthy, productive lives.
So how can the Department grow to better help you, or the senior in your life? Caregivers are an essential component of our seniors’ health and well-being; what programs would best help them perform their work? If it might be expanded respite opportunities, support groups for caregivers, overnight respite or some other way the Department could support them, we would like to hear your ideas. Please contact them and let them know how they can better serve you!
For more information, call NY Connects at 858-8526 or visit www.erie.gov/seniorservices. You can also send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, search @ECSeniorServices on Facebook and follow @ECSeniorSvcs on Twitter.