Senior agency sees danger in budget cuts
The North Central Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging held its monthly meeting Tuesday in Marion. Marion is served as one of 18 counties under the wing of the agency.
The main agenda item at the meeting was the agency’s budget. Agency Director Julie Govert Walter spoke to representatives from each county about a potential cut in the Older American’s Act. The budget for the agency was set at over $3.2 million for 2013, but Walter said the organization could not make up a cut of 8.4 percent that has been proposed in Congress. The focus for the agency would be to charge centers and counties more for services, which could affect the lives of local seniors with higher food prices.
“Retired people are on a very fixed income,” Walter said. “Very few people have found a way to grow that money with current interest rates.”
Besides food, there are services that the agency provides. They include a toll-free number where people can call to answer questions about senior living.
“Mom’s falling all the time,” was one example Walter gave.
The agency also provides local case managers. Case managers are in-home problem solvers to help seniors. Trish Brinker of Emporia is the case manager for Marion County.
There are also senior health insurance officers who work with seniors to map out Medicare drug plans. The senior health insurance officer for the County is Karen Mayse.
“They save older people about $600 a year,” Walter said.
The services and food work to provide seniors support so they can live outside of nursing homes.
“Most people would prefer to be in their home,” Walter said. “They just need someone to look in on them and make sure their health needs are met.”
A loss of federal funding would make it more difficult for the agency to provide those services.
“Good services, done well, cost money,” Walter said. “With aging services, you don’t know what you need until a loved one is there.”