NEWS

Seniors learn about Franklin County services

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Traci Kline, director of Franklin County Area Agency on Aging, interacted with people curious about the county programs offered to older adults.

Greencastle Presbyterian Church sponsored a forum on aging issues on Monday, and 35 people turned out to learn about services available to them or their loved ones.

Coordinator Ginny Hartman explained the reason for the session.

“A church group has been meeting for some time, and many questions arose. We thought it might be good to get them answered by a professional.”

Traci Kline, director of Franklin County Area Agency on Aging, was that pro. She was pleased with the number of people in attendance, and shared information on many of the services available through the county. They are dedicated to residents age 60 and over.

The local Area Agency on Aging received its funding from three sources: county, 10 percent; federal, 20 percent; and Pennsylvania lottery, 70 percent.

“Thank goodness for the lottery,” said Kline.

The agency is in charge of Older Adult Protective Services, a growing concern across the state and nation. The staff takes reports and acts on cases regarding abuse, neglect, exploitation or abandonment.

“We’ll do everything we need to do to make sure the individual is safe,” Kline said.

The Ombudsman program follows up on complaints about care in nursing homes and other facilities. Staff make regular visits to assure the rights of the residents are upheld.

FCAAA conducts assessments on the needs and care of people prior to their entering agency programs, and to determine whether they are eligible for nursing home care.

An Information and Referral Service is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 263-2153, or for walkins at the office at 600 Norland Ave., Suite 11 in Chambersburg. A trained person can answer questions and help fill out forms such as the Property Tax and Rent Rebate.

“Apprise Insurance Counseling is underutilized,” Kline said. “It is free for people on Medicare.”

The federal program is designed to help people wade through health insurance issues such as Medicare D, Medigap Supplemental Insurance, benefits and fraud. Trained volunteers are available Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Kline added, “They won’t tell you what to do, but they will help you look at policies.”

She promoted the eight senior centers in Franklin County, of which Greencastle is one of the busiest. They focus on the congregant meal program but also offer clubs and activities for social experiences.

“It’s a place for independent older adults to learn something new.”

The calendar for the Greencastle Senior Center at 10615 Antrim Church Road included many exercise classes, card clubs, a bus trip, BINGO, Spanish, group study, birthday celebrations and dancing.

Kline stressed that the meals were important, including home delivered meals to people who could not leave their houses. There was no income restriction. The service was also automatically available for two weeks to anyone discharged from the hospital. She doubted many were aware of that.

“We want to make sure people are receiving the nutrition they need,” she said.

Another service from FCAAA was Care Management, in which staff spoke with individuals and their families to devise the best care plan, with the goal to keep people at home and independent as long as possible.

Another underutilized service was Adult Day Care. An impaired older adult could spend time out of the home and in the community, with social, recreational, health and rehabilitative activities.

And a big perk for seniors was Franklin County Transportation. A one-way trip to medical appointments, social service agencies, grocery stores, senior centers and such was $1.50. Kline said people had to register through the office and then give 24 hour notice of the need for a ride.

Kline passed out literature and answered questions from the audience.