5/31/2018 2:52:00 PM Silver tsunami will require strategic budgeting and aligning of services, regional agency representative says
At this time of the year, the word “senior” brings to mind house parties and caps and gowns-- but, there was a recent reminder for the County Board that seniors are a growing constituency that is going to require planning and fiscal support.
The Central MN Council on Aging sent Lori Vrolson to update the county commissioners on trends and budget demands in senior services and how the council is working on delivering needed programs. Vrolson told the Board that 13 percent of Chisago County’s population is comprised of senior citizens age 60-plus and this is projected to double by 2030.
The federal Older Americans Act sends $227,186 (in 2017) to the county to help pay for everything from rides to a doctor to congregate dining sites. Chisago County taxpayers support the budget of Central MN Council on Aging contributing $3,547 annually. Stearns gives $9,627 while Kanabec County pitches in $1,520. The council on aging is a non-profit based in Sartell with satellite offices Hinckley, Cambridge, St. Cloud and Brainerd. Vrolson said the Central MN Council on Aging, which administers federal funding for 14 counties, contracts with Family Pathways to offer three Senior LinkAge Line advocates in this county.
Advocates worked with seniors sorting through their issues with healthcare, navigating community services and assessing their situation to see what level of assistance would be beneficial.
The best connection to advocates is on the LinkAge line-- which got 3,115 Chisago County calls and provided 961 in person help visits last year. The programs also provide time-off for families who are in care-giver roles and eight families got 316.5 hours of respite time. The caregiver education program saw 17 attend classes. Consultation staff provided about 298 hours with 31 caregivers who were seeking counsel.
There were 13,663 home delivered meals that went through a Council on Aging site. Congregate dining distributed another 7,124 meals. Commissioner George McMahon asked Vrolson about transportation programs. The most confusing thing about the transit options in Chisago County are the diverse areas and hours of operation and where transport is allowed to go and where it is not. Many seniors need to leave the county and get into the metro area or cross the border to access services in Wisconsin.
Vrolson said the state is working on putting together a one-call service where anyone can contact an operator who will have the ability to sort through the transportation options in a certain area and advise callers. She said transportation and mental health are “black holes” where putting all the pieces together in an efficient manner has proven to be a challenge over the decades.
Chisago County and the city of Crosby were recently chosen to work on a two-year pilot project that will put together a system to get the word out about senior services using a resource hub, volunteer “community connectors” and community based education events.