Commission on Aging looks to the future

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As the chairman and co-chairman of the Clark County Commission on Aging, Larry Smith and Chuck Green do what they can to support the senior community all year. Whether it’s meal delivery or finding programs to get seniors out in the community, the nine-member commission works to improve the lives of senior citizens in Clark County. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many regular commission activities and programs have been changed or put on hold. The commission’s annual April summit was canceled this year as well as many in-person meetings. But this hasn’t stopped the commission from doing what it can to help older citizens. 

Meals on Wheels, a program that feeds seniors in the area, had to change up its delivery practices. Smith said that’s because people can’t group together in a neutral location such as the Battle Ground Community Center. Meals on Wheels is delivering meals directly to the homes of those in need. 

“Now they deliver one time a week with seven frozen meals and maybe some vegetables and bread,” Smith said. “They’re scheduled to fit the needs of the population that we’re supporting.”

Smith mentioned that since Meals on Wheels is only delivering once a week, seniors are missing the daily connections with those who normally feed them. Smith and Green encouraged the local community to help by doing such things as calling seniors and scheduling “socially distant meetups” to give seniors the personal connections they need. Citizens of all ages can help out the senior community by “giving them a call” or knocking on their door and stepping back six-feet or more to talk. 

“If you know seniors just give them a phone call and say ‘hey, how’s it going? What do you need?’ and so forth,” Green said. “That really helps tremendously and really breaks down that isolation that many of them are having right now.” 

Along with calls and small meetups, Smith and Green said members of the community have set up music groups and caroling to bring to the seniors in isolation. Smith said that many seniors are open to having others knock on their door for a conversation, and the personal “eyeball to eyeball” connection is critical for the older population. 

According to Green, the commission has a theme every year. One year it was transportation and the commission worked on getting transportation for seniors. Another year it was “healthy communities.” This year, however, the theme is a little harder to implement. 

“This year it's ‘community engagement.’ So, obviously we’ve been struggling a little bit with that,” Green said. 

According to Green, the commission is working to help get seniors involved with the community once the restrictions around COVID-19 pandemic are eased a bit. Green hopes to get the seniors back into the local schools for reading programs once fall comes around. Green said there’s a lot of value for not only seniors but kids in these reading programs. 

“Hopefully we can get them re-integrated with the community,” he said.  

According to Smith and Green, the commission recently filled a vacancy and is full. However, the group hopes to get back up and running here in the next few weeks. Community members can stay up to day on the commission’s Facebook page at facebook.com/ClarkCountyCOA/ or online at clark.wa.gov/community-planning/commission-aging.

While the commission has all nine of it’s slots filled for now, Green and Smith said they want the community to know that one does not have to be a senior to join the commission and encouraged community members of all ages to apply if there ever is a vacancy. 

 

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