County needs a plan for senior center future
(Senior action centers were a topic of discussion at Thursday's meeting of the Northumberland County commissioners. In relation, Commissioner Stephen Bridy provided the following.)
To the editor: In an effort to make and keep our senior action centers fiscally sustainable, I propose the following:
1. All action center visitors should sign in with a time upon arrival and a time upon departure. This will enable us to accurately track the number of seniors utilizing the center, as well as the peak and off-peak days and times.
2. Hold annual appointments of those members and citizens who are willing to serve our seniors in the event the center manager is not available. Once the infrastructure is in place ...
3. We can slowly move to a single action center manager to cover two action centers. The vast majority of the expense to keep these action centers open is wages and benefit packages. Many counties in Pennsylvania have one manager for two or possibly three centers.
4. Before any further action is taken on closing or partial closing, there should be demographic studies performed. In an era when more than 70 million Baby Boomers are preparing to retire, we cannot act without a clear understanding of the data and needs of our seniors.
5. Should these action centers be closed in the future, we must also take into account the negative effect a closing can have on our seniors. Without a normal and healthy interaction with their peers, my fear is that some may become recluse and or shut-ins; at that point, their health can deteriorate and they themselves may end up on our waiting list for services at the Area Agency on Aging.
6. Last but certainly not least, I would like to propose changing the name of the action centers to remove any stigma associated with the word "senior." With life expectancies at their highest rate and continuing to climb, thanks to wonderful research and health care provided by the free market, many seniors are active and healthy, and many are still able to participate in activities such as golfing, skiing, tennis, bowling, hunting and others. In order to attract younger retirees, similar events can be offered, which will raise participation across the county.
I will not allow the state or federal government to use the greatest generation as scapegoats for their inability to do what is best for those who built this great nation.