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Centerpieces were given to Commission on Aging & Disabilities members at the holiday breakfast by the Bureau of Aging & Disabilities. COAD members are, Val Cioeff, seated, Senior Inclusion Program; Hermine Saunders, left, COAD Chair; and Carol Wheatley, representing Westminster.
Centerpieces were given to Commission on Aging & Disabilities members at the holiday breakfast by the Bureau of Aging & Disabilities. COAD members are, Val Cioeff, seated, Senior Inclusion Program; Hermine Saunders, left, COAD Chair; and Carol Wheatley, representing Westminster. (Courtesy photo)

One of the most meaningful gifts I received this past Christmas came at a brunch given for members of the Commission on Aging & Disabilities by members of the Bureau of Aging & Disabilities.

Each Commission member was given a centerpiece, most of them consisting of two snowmen with hats surrounded by wrapped presents in a blanket of cotton “snow,” with a card that read: “This centerpiece was made by participants of the Senior Inclusion Program using recycled materials and cotton grown and harvested by our members.”

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This Senior Inclusion Program is one of many programs sponsored by the Bureau, this particular one for the differently abled, a term I prefer to disabled, that positively impacts the lives of Carroll County residents.

As Chair of the Commission on Aging & Disabilities, I am blessed to work with outstanding members of the greater community who help to promote the laudable work done by Bureau Chief Celene Steckel and her staff at the Bureau of Aging & Disabilities, and to support the Bureau in its endeavors to serve Carroll countians. The Commission serves as a steering committee for the prioritization of programs and partnership development. Members of the Commission come from all jurisdictions of Carroll County as well as from local aging and disability partner agencies, such as the Department of Social Services and the Carroll County Health Department, and other private providers of aging and disabilities services. They present to the Bureau the needs and issues of older adults, individuals with disabilities and veterans of the county.

As a member of the Commission for the last four years I have learned much about the services offered by the Bureau; how fortunate we prime-ers are to live in Carroll County with all the programs and services that the Bureau provides. As Chair of the Commission this year I am proud to advocate for those programs and services and for the future needs of the Bureau.

The Bureau is constantly working to improve the lives of the 60-plus population in Carroll County, including those with disabilities. The goals of the Bureau stem from the needs and desires of that senior population for health and wellness and educational programming, often leading to the need for more usable space at the five senior and community centers strategically located throughout the county; and from long-range planning developed from initiatives like Aging in Place and the Health and Wellness Cluster of the Long-term Advisory Council whose purpose is to help the Board of County Commissioners plan for the future of the county.

The Bureau of Aging & Disabilities strives to help individuals make informed decision about the services that are most appropriate for their needs. The gatekeeper of this service is the Maryland Access Point (MAP)/Information and Assistance program which is a resource for information and assistance about home and community based services. Of particular interest are those services that provide Medicare and health insurance counseling, community help to avoid a nursing home stay or caregiver supports that help with shopping, chores or personal care because of a disability. You may reach Maryland Access Point at the Bureau number, 410-386-3800.

A few population projections are in order to understand imminent and projected future needs of seniors, particularly in Carroll County. That the 60-plus population is the fastest growing throughout Maryland is no surprise. Projections for that population in the state, from the U.S. Census, Maryland Department of Planning, from 2015 to 2030, are as follows:

  • 2015 — 1,196,795;
  • 2020 —1,386,896;
  • 2025~1,568,594;
  • 2030~1,679,379.

Those are dramatic rises in 15 years. For Carroll County the numbers are equally dramatic:

2015 —37,411;

2020 — 45,529;

2025 — 53,637;

2030 — 58,555.

For the Bureau of Aging & Disabilities to keep pace with these increases of over 21,000 in just 15 years means that it must rethink the provision of services and diversify options to meet the growing needs of the changing population. Meeting those growing needs may mean capital expenditures as well as program expansions.

The programs offered by the Bureau of Aging & Disabilities are legion, too numerous for this brief column. There is something for almost everyone: recreation, pursuit of an avocation, health and wellness education, long-term services and supports, legal assistance, caregiver support, and more. There are services for veterans and those with disabilities. There are supports and programs for those in need of any kind of assistance as they age. The Bureau of Aging & Disabilities is one reason the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings has named Carroll County the Number 1 county in Maryland for quality of life! Let’s keep that ranking! Again, you may reach the Bureau of Aging & Disabilities at 410-386-3800.

If you want to learn more about the Bureau programming and expertise, please come to the Seniors on the Go Aging & Disabilities Expo on Wednesday, April 4, at the Shipley Arena at the Carroll County Agriculture Center, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. This year’s Expo will highlight Assistive Technology by partnering with Maryland’s Department of Disabilities’ Technology Assistance Program.

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