03/24/08 — County's aging residents focus of plan

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County's aging residents focus of plan

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on March 24, 2008 1:50 PM

Faced with a large segment of the population that is rapidly growing older, Wayne County Services on Aging has a new four-year plan to help direct the county's response.

Created at the behest of the Eastern Carolina Council on Area Agency on Aging, and put together by the Wayne County Commissioners' Council for Older Adults and the Wayne County Aging Planning Task Force -- the latter two of which are in the process of merging -- the plan takes a look at several issues related to senior citizens.

"There are a number of areas that were rated as high areas of concern," Ms. McAuliffe said.

Among those, and other areas the plan will be focusing on, were housing and utilities; health care and healthy living; economic security and safety; technology; and physical safety and security.

More specifically, she hopes to use the plan to find more volunteers, increase respite care opportunities and eventually expand the senior center, which is currently located at 100 S. John Street.

But, she emphasized, none of that is to mean that Wayne County is behind in meeting senior citizens' needs in any of those areas. It just means that with the baby boomer population now beginning to reach retirement age, resources in the county are being stretched thin.

"There are just a lot of needs for the elderly in this county," Ms. McAuliffe said. "It's a nationwide situation when your aging population is growing and you have to deal with the needs of those people."

And those are many of the same needs that she identified when she was hired as director in January.

Currently, though, until the commissioners' council and the task force can merge and begin work on the plan, it's a document that's rather short on specific action steps.

"What we're hoping is to use this to decide what plans and priorities will be addressed first," she said.

It's a process she expects will soon be under way.

"We're being proactive," Ms. McAuliffe said. "It's a response to the fact the aging population is the fastest-growing population in the nation."