Kareem Johnson | Digital Journalist

Task Force Puts Spotlight on Senior Needs

By Kareem JohnsonEmail the author | April 10, 2011

What sorts of services are available to senior citizens in University City?

That issue took center stage at Thursday night’s meeting of the Mayor’s Task  on Seniors and Youth.

Gladys Hicks of the Mid-East Area Agency on Aging, which provide services to seniors in four counties – St. Louis County, St. Charles, Franklin and Jefferson Counties –  said the two biggest issues confronting seniors are transportation and caregiving.

“Meals are the uppermost thing keeping seniors in their home,” Hicks said. She also said that Mid-East’s primary goal is to keep seniors independent in their communities for as long as possible.

“Agencies on Aging were intended to be in the community to serve as an unbiased go-to to look at senior needs and come up with community resources.”

Hicks expressed concern that things have become difficult because transportation has been reduced to U City’s Ochs Senior Center on 975 Pennsylvania. Currently, seniors get a life there on Mondays through Thursdays, leaving Friday, Saturday, and Sunday without transportation.

“It’s very rough telling seniors that the fifth day, a Friday, that you are going to be by yourself for three days in a row.”

Hicks said the cuts happened over five years ago. Another agency, the Senior Service Board was available for transportation until it became defunct.

Hicks also talked about funding. The Mid-East Area Agency on Aging receives money from the federal government, which is distributed based on the census numbers. Hicks said upwards of $200,000 could be lost due to the drop in population in University City in the 2010 census.

During her talk, Hicks also noted that University City relies heavily on transportation and meals on wheels programs. When asked about the support University City gives to Mid-East, Hicks said the city ranks very high in support, but it would be essential to the agency in “their thoughts, and budgets, to keep the seniors going.”

Mary Hart of the University City Senior Resource Team also spoke at the task force meeting on Thursday.

Hart is part of the U City Senior Resource Team, which meets once a month in U City. The team includes representatives from several  groups that deal with issues confronting mid-life and senior citizens, and serves as a resource.

Hart said there is going to be a Healthy Lifestyle and Senior Resource Expo on April 28, at Centennial Commons.

The task force also spoke about a survey that has been under development.  Questions and answers on the survey for both youths and seniors were discussed.

The group talked about how the survey will be distributed for both seniors and youth.  The group plans to do a senior survey sample at the Senior Resource Expo.

The next scheduled Task Force meeting is slated for May 5th in the EOC room (basement) of City Hall.

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