May is Older Americans Month, an opportunity for us to recognize the perennial contributions of older Americans to our communities. Today older Americans are living longer and more healthfully than ever before. Many are blazing trails, pursuing fulfilling second careers or finding inspiration through meaningful volunteer work. At FCS, (Family & Children’s Service,) we are enormously grateful for the contributions of our more than 300 Retired and Senior Volunteers who are the mainstay of our Reading Buddies, Healthy Buddies and SHIP programs. We are also appreciative of the hard work provided by many of the older volunteers who help guide our agency and raise funds for our programs and services. But as a nonprofit social service agency, we recognize that many older Americans face significant challenges as they age, challenges that they may not be able to meet on their own.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 10,000 Baby Boomers, those born between the between the years 1946 and 1964, are turning 65 everyday, and people over age 85 constitute the fastest growing segment of the population. Given the choice, most people would prefer to remain at home as they age, but not everyone has the resources to do so. We see evidence of this everyday, from the elderly couple who have exhausted their savings to meet medical expenses, to the disabled adult whose frail state leaves him vulnerable to abuse, neglect and exploitation, to the ailing mother who spent a lifetime caring for others who can no longer care for herself.
Many of our 14 programs address the needs of this aging, at-risk population. Adult Protective Services (APS) helps protect vulnerable adults in Monmouth and Middlesex counties from abuse, neglect and exploitation. Our Home Care Services, Statewide Respite Care, Jersey Assistance for Community Caregiving (JACC) and Telephone Reassurance program help those with chronic physical or mental disabilities live safely in their homes for as long as possible. Our Medicaid Application Assistance Program (MAPP) helps medically and financially eligible people meet the escalating costs of long term care. And our SHIP, State Health Insurance Assistance program, provides unbiased, confidential Medicare counseling. We are here to provide help and hope.
This May, we celebrate the contributions of all older Americans, those who are blazing new trails and those who are struggling in their day-to-day lives. Their courage and resilience in the face of life’s challenges is an inspiration to all of us.
Delly Beekman, FCS CEO