HAMMONTON — The Atlantic County senior population is expected to keep growing, but the Atlantic County’s Area Agency on Aging is working to fulfill the needs of its current aging population.
That was the message of Cindy McNellis, executive director, Atlantic County Area Agency on Aging, gave to about 30 people during one of the agency’s annual public hearings Friday morning at the Family Success Center here.
"The process of aging is happening to each and every one of us," said McNellis, who added this month is Older Americans Month. "Some of our services are out there to make the aging process more positive."
Over the next 20 years, the proportion of the U.S. population over age 60 will dramatically increase, as 77 million baby boomers reach traditional retirement age, McNellis said.
By 2030, more than 70 million Americans will be 65 and older, twice the number in 2000 and more than four times the amount in 1963, McNellis said.
Last year, the Atlantic County Area Agency on Aging was awarded $2.87 million by the federal and state governments to provide services under the 1965 Older Americans Act for this year.
The Older Americans Act was a part of former President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society Agenda during the 1960s. It has been reauthorized 10 times, most recently in 2016. The next reauthorization is scheduled for September.
The federal funds allocated to the Older American Act programs have not kept pace with inflation nor has funding kept pace with the rising number of seniors, McNellis said.
MARGATE — People age 60 and older are welcome to attend any of the eight free senior centers across Atlantic County. Managed by the Milton & Betty Katz JCC, each center provides a hot lunch, socialization, and educational and recreational activities to more than 7,000 senior citizens each month.
An Area Agency on Aging is in each of this state's 21 counties, McNellis said.
Some of the many different services provided by Atlantic County's Area Agency on Aging include daily calls to the homebound, installing handrails and grab bars in people’s homes and legal assistance for those with civil landlord-tenant disputes.
Last year, the county provided 165,000 rides for its seniors, many of them either to senior centers or for medical appointments.
During public hearings last year, seniors asked for help with dental and hearing care as they are not covered by Medicare, McNellis said.
“We did hear you,” McNellis said.
The county will be rolling out a RFP, request for proposal, to see if a nonprofit would be able to supply some hearing aids for Atlantic County seniors, McNellis said.
In response to a request for help with dental care last year, the county has put more emphasis on awareness that the John H. Cronin Dental Center in Northfield and the University Dental Center in Galloway Township accept patients on a sliding fee scale and those who are members of the MyCountyCares Dental Plan, McNellis said.
Sharon Pachler, 67, of Margate, asked whether there was a pool seniors could access in the western part of the county, so they could have the arthritic and aerobic swim classes that are available at the Brigantine Aquatic Center, Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation in Galloway Township and at the Milton & Betty Katz Community Center, Fitness Facility and Childcare in Margate.
McNellis was not aware of a pool in the western part of the county that it could access to arrange arthritic and aerobic swim classes, but said she was open to discussing it with any organization that has one.